Chennai woke up to news of a 67-year-old oncologist murdered, just outside her doorstep, in her garden on Sunday morning. Rohini Premkumari was living on Gandhi Irwin Road in Egmore with her mother, Subhadra Nair. Police suspect that the murder took place when she was taking a stroll in the garden on Saturday night. She was found dead by a relative, Parameswaran. Both her hands and legs were tied. Police suspect that she was hit on her head with a hard object.
Rohini’s murder, however, isn’t the first such brutal attack on a senior citizen. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), every fourth murder reported in Tamil Nadu in 2013 was of persons above the age of 50.
So, just how safe is Chennai for its senior citizens?
While the police investigate the motive behind Rohini’s murder, past crimes in the city have shown that senior citizens, who are often home alone, are murdered for gain. On most occasions, the killer is also known to the victim.
In March, a 72-year-old woman, Saradha was murdered at her third-floor apartment in Egmore. Her killer had slit her throat, cut off her earlobes and stolen her gold chain and earrings. A smartphone was also missing. Police then had suspected that the crime was carried out by someone who was familiar to the victim.
Saradha’s case had an eerie resemblance to that of 82-year-old Emma Gonsalvez’s murder in June 2014. The psychotherapist was strangled to death in her apartment in Egmore. An LED TV, a gold chain and two gold rings weighing four sovereigns were missing following the crime. The killer was the juvenile son of Gonsalvez’s TV repairman.
Letika Saran, former DGP told The News Minute, “After the death of Emma Gonsalvez, the city police did take action and improved the safety of the elderly people. The ones staying in apartments are comparatively safer as the security guard does not let anyone inside. A crook will always try to get along with the elderly people and later get something from them.”
In 2012, Chennai’s then police commissioner JK Tripathy launched a special initiative whereby senior citizens who were home alone could register with the police. On their part, the police would provide them with extra security.