The old adage was that money rules over everything else. But as if to outdo that, our land has been hearing about, the growing diabolism of turning to corpses their own mothers and those who fostered them. For, Kerala is yet to overcome the shock and surprise over the stories of the serial killer in Koodathayi, Kozhikode, and her grisly acts with poison in hand for liquidating those who stood in the way of money and those likely pos hurdles.
Malayalis who have been overexposed to those tales over the last several days, are now expressing their disgust and aversion aloud. All the same, new accounts of mean crimes are being unravelled each day. What came to light the other day is the narrative of brutally torturing one's biological mother with the motive of grabbing money and finally murdering and burying her. And we have also the incident of Sunil Kumar, the youngest son of Savithri, the 84-year old woman of Chemmamuk, Pattathaanam Neethi Nagar in Kollam, who killed his mother and buried her, all to take hold of the property deed in the middle of a property dispute. Although the son was given to returning drunk and beating her, the tender maternal heart bore with the pain without disowning the son. It was making use of such motherly care that the son strangled her to death and consigned her to the grave. But the dastardly crimes of killing or waylaying one's mother to grab property and money and other interests, did not begin in Koodathaayi or Chemmamuk in Kollam. Nor is it likely to end with them. Recent figures ratify such apprehensions.
Several such heinous acts of murdering parents in desperation of not getting property, or out of fear of losing it, have been reported over the last two years alone. There have also been increasing incidents of killing parents and disposing of their dead bodies to the hinterland of civic life. These are not people without the financial resources for a living. After leading a rich life and having happily received their share of property, children ditch them and transfer them to old age homes. It was four months ago that we heard from Piravom, Ernakulam that a couple 96 and 91 years old, with six children all living in comfortable financial circumstances, had to finally take shelter with Women and Child Development department. Once the landed property was divided among the offspring, there was no one to take care of the couple. Forced to swim in the dirt and disease of privation, they were saved by a few volunteers.
The state government had issued a warning last year that legal action would be taken against children who did not take care of their parents. According to statistics at that time, there were 516 old age homes that received government aid. Of this, 16 are run directly by the government. A total of 20,000 inmates live in these homes. It was also found that 46 per cent of them had relatives including their own children and that the parents left home after being victim to their torment and torture. Even if the children of the deserted parents were located, most of the offspring were unprepared to take the parents back.
In 2007, Kerala enacted the Kerala Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act . As per this, action could be taken against children who did not protect parents. They can be sentenced to imprisonment or fine. But when the practice of throwing parents to old age homes continued, complaints were raised about the law being ineffective; that forced the Social Justice department to collect data of those who were expelled and issue instructions to tighten legal action against the culprit. But five months laer, when our correspondent visited an old age home in Malappuram, what most of the inmates had to relate were harrowing tales of sons and daughters deserting them. That means neither law nor its tightening got nowhere. In fact, in May last year the Central government had amended and strengthened the provisions of Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act of 2007. They contained provisions by which, children, grand children, nephew and nieces who desert those above 60 years could be sentenced to six months in jail, and if they violate the assurance that they would take good care of them and snatch property, they were liable to return the property to the parents.
The definition of children was widened to include grand children, spouse of children, spouses of grandchildren and adopted children. Maintenance included providing food, clothing, space to lie, teatment and included the security of senior citizens. In case of desertion, senior citizens were given the right to approach the Maintenance Tribunal. Thus, now parents who have reached old age are forced to move the court to obtain maintenance for their living. And voluntary organizations who give senior citizens legal support say that 71 per cent of them are victims of expulsion. As a result of 6,687 complaints were filed with 27 tribunals. Of this the courts gave ruling on all except 873. But each day of the horrific murders we come to hear now, gives us a disappointing answer to the question how far it will be successful if the umbilical chord snapped by children can be stitched together by the thread of law. Nothing can save us from this infection of evil except the humanity borne out of the sweetness of mother's milk and the salt of father's sweat.