No country for old people!

Eighty-two-year-old Vasireddy Malathi Devi spends most of the evenings watching the shimmering crescent moon from her window at the old age home in Guntur. The waxing and waning moon reminds of her own past encased in painful memories and also rekindles hopes of a better tomorrow.

Born in a well-to-do family at Lam near Amaravathi, Ms. Malathi along with her husband moved to Visakhapatnam, where the couple raised their children, a son and a daughter, and got them married.

It was after the death of her husband, Hari Prasad, that things took a vicious turn in the family. Issues relating to sharing of property created a discord in the family and Ms. Malathi found herself in the centre of a unsavoury controversy. Disowned by her son and daughter, she finds herself in an old age home run with munificence by Kondabolu Basavapunniah, president of Nagarjuna Educational Society. On a hot day, the octogenarian mustered strength to meet Superintendent of Police, Guntur Urban, Ch. Vijaya Rao, who, after a patient hearing, promised to render justice.

“My husband and I gave away all the property to our children. I have faced harassment and was abused by my son and daughter-in-law so much so that I wanted to die. But I have decided to fight and get back my property. I am knocking at doors of legal authorities and I firmly believe that I would get justice,’’ Ms. Malathi told
The Hindu
.

Disowned

In growing towns like Guntur, which have witnessed a phenomenal increase of property prices, the disturbing trend of elderly men and women who are at the last leg of their lives and disowned by their children is on the rise.

Sk. Rahimunnisa is one such woman. After raising her family and building a house with her efforts, she is allegedly abused by her son.

Counselling

In Guntur Urban Police district limits, the number of petitions have gone up 10 times in the last three years. From just 22 petitions received in the year 2015, the number went up to 191 in 2016.

In 2017, 230 petitions were received, of which counselling was done in 226 cases and in 156 cases, both the parents and children were reconciled. So far in 2018, of the 161 petitions received, counselling was done in 142 cases, and reconciliation was done in 104 cases.

“The number of senior citizens submitting petitions during weekly grievance programmes is on the rise. We have ensured that they are provided a comfortable seating and have arranged water and toilet facility. We have already appointed a conciliation officer in the rank of a DSP, who receives petitions and counsels parents and children,’’ Mr. Vijaya Rao told
The Hindu
.

Sensing the disturbing trend, the AP Legal Services Authority and District Legal Services Authority is organising a mega legal services session on August 4, which offers a platform for senior citizens to submit their grievances. All major law enforcement agencies are expected to take part.

Free legal aid

“In Guntur, we are offering free legal aid to senior citizens. We want to open a web portal which has all information regarding the various legal safeguards for senior citizens. The portal will have a monitoring system for cases filed by senior citizens,’’ District Judge Harihara Nath Sharma said.

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