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Abandoning of elders at temples worries Kerala

Revelation comes as chief minister Oommen Chandy is conducting his mass contact programme

Gulf News

Thiruvananthapuram: A high literacy level and social achievements that are distinctly higher than national standards are feathers in Kerala’s cap, but a worrying new trend has dented that image.

Media reports now indicate that some Keralites have taken to abandoning their elderly parents at temple precincts in the state, including at the famed Sri Krishna temple at Guruvayur.

The revelation comes even as chief minister Oommen Chandy is conducting his mass contact programme, in which several senior citizens who feel rejection by their family members are among those queuing up for solace from the authorities.

One case of abandonment that was highlighted in the media was that of Padmavathi, a senior citizen from Thiruvananthapuram, who was left by her children to fend for herself at the Guruvayur temple. She had been taken to the temple by her children on the pretext of worshipping there, and later abandoned at the temple.

The State Women’s Commission has taken cognizance of the matter. SWC member K A Thulasi held a sitting at the Guruvayur temple and has directed the revenue divisional officer of Thrissur to submit a detailed report about elders being dumped in Guruvayur.

Media reports indicate that nearly 100 people, including those who have been abandoned by family members and those who live around the temple precincts owing to poverty, are permanently residing around the temple.

The SWC plans to register cases against those who have abandoned parents, under the provisions of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act. The Act allows parents to take children to court for neglect.

Some of the elders are dumped near the temple after transferring the children transfer their parents’ property in their own names, making the elders’ plight even worse. A detailed report will be submitted to the government on this matter, which will also touch on the need for setting up rehabilitation centres. Some of the elders are unable to remember their addresses, putting authorities in a fix about taking them back to their families or acting against those who abandoned them.

Reports of abandoning elders have also come from Oachira. Some of the elderly found at the Guruvayur temple were found to be from well-off families. Local police have been entrusted with the work of gathering information about abandoned elders around the temple precincts.