A video of an elderly couple from Tirunelveli defending themselves against masked intruders went viral in the state a little over 10 days ago. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami also presented them with special bravery awards on Independence Day, appreciating their presence of mind and bravery.
A similar incident has now been reported from Orathanadu in Thanjavur district on Tuesday. Palaniappan and Indira, residents of Draupathi Amman Koil street in Orathandu were shocked to see a burglar emerge from their house while they returned after attending a family function. The couple, with help from relatives and neighbours, caught the thief red-handed and took him to the police station where he was discovered to be a history-sheeter.
Instances such as these have turned the spotlight on the elderly being an easy target for burglars. While nuclear families are the norm in cities, in villages, elderly parents end up living alone when their children move to the cities in search of employment. But not all of them might be physically capable of warding off intruders, like the Tirunelveli couple.
Thanjavur SP SS Mageshwaran agrees. â€śIt is less common to find elderly couple living alone in rural areas. They are usually living very close to relatives. What happened in Tirunelveli, where the couple were living away from the village, is a rare setting,â€ť he says.
Orathanadu inspector Pruthiviraj says, â€śElders tend to stay alone for the sake of their childrenâ€™s convenience but we generally insist on them living along with family. It possible for misfits to make a note of such houses, where older people live alone, and then target them later. We always advise them not to store valuables in the house and to always live near relatives, if living with their grown up children is not possible.â€ť
Pruthiviraj also notes that elderly women are common targets for chain snatchers. â€śWe also tell them not to wear heavy jewellery while they out on their own for their own safety,â€ť he adds.
Tirunelveli DSP R Ponnarasu has a few suggestions on safety measures. â€śWe are installing CCTV cameras in all areas. We are suggest that they download and use the Kavalan app. It is very simple and efficient to use. If they send an SOS message on the app, we will immediately dispatch help,â€ť he says insisting that the app is very user friendly.
Ponnarasu further adds, â€śWe also advise them against letting strangers inside the house. Gas agents, and other handymen will have to be known or verified persons. This will avoid putting them in dangerous situations.â€ť
Thanjavur inspector Pruthiviraj also adds, â€śIf any elderly person living alone feels unsafe, they can always approach their respective police station and weâ€™ll be able to keep an eye out for them specifically during our usual patrols.â€ť