WB: Elderly Mother Left On Street With Few Clothes And Parched Rice As Couple Goes On Trip
While son and daughter-in-law were busy vacationing, his elderly mother, Rashmani Bhattacharya was left to spend her days out on the streets with nothing but some parched rice and a few clothes. Rashmani, who is around 70-years-old, was found lonely and crying on the streets of Kalianibas in West Bengal’s Barrackpore area when neighbours came to her rescue. The story that was revealed following that left everyone shocked.
Son and wife left the elderly mother to fend for herself
Rahmani’s husband died a long time ago, and she reportedly lives with her youngest son Ratan and his wife, teachers at a private school in Barrackpore. Two of her older sons live in Ichapore in North 24 Parganas. According to local media reports, Ratan and his wife went on a trip to Assam for around 10 days, and before they left, they took Rashmani out of their house and left her by herself on the street with nothing but some packets of parched rice and clothes.
Rashmani survived on the parched rice for a couple of days but soon ran out of food. Distressed and hungry, she could not hold back her tears. When neighbours saw her and came forward, she could not remain mum any longer. Upon narrating her ordeal, it came to light that this was not the first instance of neglect, she had to face. She was often tortured by her son and daughter-in-law. She was once locked out of the house when it was terribly cold outside, and when it is unbearably hot, lights and fans were forcefully switched off in her room, reported Ei Samay.
Despite all of this, she never opened her mouth fearing that her son’s reputation would be damaged. However, local councillor Ajbithi Biswas came forward to help the old lady where Rashmani has taken temporary shelter, reported the Times Of India. Biswas said that while attempts have been made to contact the couple, legal action will be initiated against them once they come back. Meanwhile, Uttam Das Municipality Councillor of Barrackpore has said“This is an extremely shameful incident. We have asked the police to look into it seriously.”
Other cases of abuse
The sad reality is that our greatest dangers are from the people we are closest to. A stunning finding by HelpAge India reveals that every second elderly person its researchers spoke to, is suffering abuse my family members, reported Hindustan Times.
Verbal abuse, neglect, and disrespect are a daily affair in several households. Reports show that the daughter-in-law and almost an equal number of the son are responsible for such abuse. Daughters, however, are rarely abusive, the HelpAge India survey says. The major common reason for this kind of abuse is because these parents are economically dependent on their children. Numerous cases of children inflicting abuse and torture on their elderly parents have cropped up numerous times. HelpAge India, which is a Non-Profit Organization that cares for neglected elderly citizens in India, brought into the limelight these stories. Hard to believe as it is, this is the depressing reality of the country.
In May, a large number of people expressed their outrage over a video of a woman beating her mother-in-law in Kolkata for plucking flowers without permission. The mother-in-law is an amnesia patient. This extremely disturbing incident was caught on camera by a neighbour and was subsequently posted on social media.
A survey conducted by HelpAge India revealed that out of the 5014 elders approached, across 23 cities, 25% said that they have experienced abuse. The most common form of abuse was reported to be disrespect, followed by verbal abuse and neglect. Son and daughter-in-law turned out to be the primary abusers. Of the surveyed cities, Mangaluru topped the list of cases of elderly abuse. Other cities like Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Amritsar, Delhi and Kanpur too reported a high incidence of elderly abuse.
What does the law say?
Senior citizens, if neglected by their family, can take legal action. The penalty for the offenders could be three years’ imprisonment, a fine of Rs 5,000, or both. Offenders might even have to pay up to Rs 10,000 per month. The West Bengal state Cabinet has passed The West Bengal Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Rules for senior citizens and the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, has been enacted by the Central Government.
The rules briefly ensure that the children of the aged provide them with food, medicines, accommodation and recreational facilities. Whether the heirs of the elderly live in the country or abroad, they are responsible for the protection of life and property of their parents.
According to the Times of India, the first case filed under this Act was in Tuticorin. An 80-year-old woman, Arulammal and her 84-year-old husband Siluvai were neglected by their son and his wife after they took away their two homes and gold jewellery.
Madurai C Radhakrishnan, senior manager of HelpAge India said that this kind of abuse and abandonment of parents were less in families in rural areas compared to affluent families in the cities.“But, people still lack awareness on how to seek help in such a situation,” he told to the daily.
The Logical Indian take
For Rashmani Bhattacharya, this was not the first instance, in fact, she was subjected to similar treatments previously as well. This is not an isolated incident and many elderly parents have had to suffer torture at the hands of their children, which comes in the form of abuses, physical and verbal torture. The underlying problem is the generalisation of the elders and their problems. They are neither a homogenous group, nor they face the same issues. Experts at AIIMS Bhubaneswar said that declining moral values is one of the primary reasons. The Indian government has maintained that the responsibility of taking care of elders lies with their families.
Even government interventions like Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 fail to deter the abuse as a fear of social ridicule prevents most elderly parents from filing cases against their own flesh and blood. There are other provisions like a reverse mortgage which aim to provide some cash flow for people above the age of 60 years. However, the cruelty and apathy towards our own parents is something that can only be addressed by us, individually.