New Delhi, Sep 4 (IANS) Ram Vilas Gupta, 70, has symptoms of amnesia, which often trouble him when he is among the bustling crowds and maddening traffic in the capital.
Now Gupta will have something to fall back on in the time of a crisis as Delhi Police will provide identity cards to 13,000 senior citizens living alone who are left to fend for themselves.
"I hope this card helps me when my memory goes for a toss and I find it difficult to respond. I still remember how I had forgotten the way to my house and a policeman had a tough time taking me home as I could not even remember which locality I live in," Gupta recalled.
The identity card will bear the name of cardholder, contact number of persons in case of an emergency, ailment details, contact number of the cardholders' doctor and their registration number.
"As part of the initiative, around 13,000 senior citizens registered with Delhi Police will be provided with such cards by Sep 15," Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat told IANS.
Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar had announced the measure in July as an initiative to instill a measure of safety and security in this most vulnerable section of the population.
"A senior citizen complained to me that he doesn't have an identity card and that it was a problem for citizens. We have decided to issue identity cards to every senior citizen registered with us," Neeraj Kumar had said.
Of the 1.1 million senior citizens in New Delhi, 300,000 live alone. But only 13,000 of the elderly are registered with the police.
Joint Commissioner of Police S.B.K. Singh said the identity cards will also help others assist the elderly when they get lost.
"Some people fear going to police stations. This card will help senior citizens meet police officers without any hesitation or fear and their problems will be solved easily," Singh told IANS.
But some felt that the identity cards should also address the security of the elderly.
For Diwan Singh, a resident of Mayur Vihar in east Delhi, the card is merely an identity card and will not be of great help to the elderly who are soft targets for criminals.
"Like Delhi Police, some NGOs also provide senior citizens a card which mentions their blood group, their doctor's name, their illness and any emergency contact number of one of their family members or relatives. If the ID-card provided by Delhi Police can help them differently, it would be a real help," he told IANS.
Diwan Singh, 70, who is also managing committee member of the Senior Citizen's Welfare Society in Mayur Vihar Phase I, suggested that the police ensure that they interact regularly with those living alone.
"Senior citizens feel better when the police come and talk to them about their problems. It gives them a feeling of security," he added.
Delhi has seen a series of crime cases against the elderly. In July and August alone, four elderly persons were killed, including a couple in their 70s.
Gopal Sharma, 69, said with old age one is affected by various ailments. "The police initiative to give us identity cards is a small step but in the right direction. Hopefully, they will come out with more such proactive steps to instill a sense of security in us," Sharma said.