Onus on community in an era of nuclear families

The recent murder of Savitha, a homemaker in Kamakshipalya by a mechanic known to her and the murder of an elderly couple - Venkateshaiah and Swarnamba in JP Nagar in August - speak volumes of the vulnerability of the home-alone, a majority of whom are women and the elderly.

Police classify these crimes into two broad categories - preventable and non-preventable. A senior police official explains that the murders are usually committed by first-time offenders and acquaintances for gain, over affairs or old rivalry. The crimes are reported between 10 am and 2 pm, a generally lax time when men go out for work.

“The community is equally responsible for the safety of the women and the elderly. Small precautions go a long way in the prevention of such crimes. Though such crimes cannot be anticipated, the police are doing their best to arrest the crime rate. There are no professional gangs operating in the City. We have investigated these cases and brought the culprits to book as soon as possible,” says Pranab Mohanty, Joint Commissioner, Crime (West).

T Suneel Kumar, Additional Commissioner (Law and Order) feels these crimes cannot be attributed to the failure of policing alone. He said awareness should be created among the vulnerable population on safety.

“There is paranoia, but not awareness,” Kumar said.

On most occasions, the culprits have easy access to the victims’ houses as they open the door to acquaintances, and there is little time to retaliate. Electronic sirens and such other devices are thus rendered useless, police say. They recommend installation of a self-locking iron grill door that would provide protection from the intruder even if the main door is opened.

Police cautioned not to open the grill door to any individual apart from those in the family. In some cases, the perpetrators gain entry into the houses in the garb of LPG cylinder delivery boys, mechanics or Bescom/BWSSB staff.

They should not be allowed inside. The residents should have a list of telephone numbers of local offices, police station and other service providers and must call them, informing the arrival of people claiming to be representing their offices, before opening the door, police say.

Security personnel and CCTV cameras are a must in apartments. However, the apartment associations should verify the antecedents of the security personnel deployed at their gates. Another key suggestion is to have dogs as deterrents against such crimes.

The City police say they have conducted a survey to identify vulnerable households with single women and elderly couple. The staff on patrol duty have been instructed to keep a vigil on such houses and make frequent visits to enquire about the safety of the residents.

At the station level, the police have divided the jurisdictional areas into sub-beats and assigned one personnel for each sub-beat. The police have also started day beats to check on vulnerable households.

The susceptibility of the home-alone is only bound to increase in an era of nuclear families. Greater community participation and co-operation with police seems to be an ideal solution.


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