Thieves had broken into the woman’s house in August last year and the Navghar police had promised to visit her and her elderly husband every fortnight to ensure their safety; daughter says that no policeman ever showed up
In yet another incident that raises serious questions about the functioning of the Navghar police in Mulund, 76-year-old Sarojini Rao was robbed at knifepoint in her house on Thursday.
A sketch of the accused, believed to be 35-40 years old, made by sketch artist Nitin Yadav for the Mumbai police. (Insert) Sarojini Rao
Less than a year ago, a theft had taken place at the senior citizen’s residence and the Navghar police had assured her that they would visit her house once every fortnight, but not even one visit has taken place since then, according to Rao’s daughter.
Just last week, mid-day had reported how a shop owner from Mulund East was forced to detect his own case after his shop was burgled twice in three months and the Navghar police had failed to nab or even identify the culprits. The burglars were caught after the owner kept a watch on the shop himself in the night.
On Thursday, Rao, who lives with her elderly husband in Gopikrishna building in Navghar, was alone at home in the afternoon when the accused, who was posing as a gas stove repairman, rang the bell.
Rao let him in around 2 pm, after he showed her an identity card and, around 3.30 pm, when the accused was pretending to finish some paperwork for the repairs, he asked Rao for tea. “I handed him the cup of tea and he followed me into the kitchen when I went to turn off the lights,” said Rao.
The accused then stuffed Rao’s mouth, held her at knifepoint and removed her earrings and necklace. He dragged her to the bedroom and asked her to hand over the keys to her wardrobe, from which he began to steal valuables.
“He threatened to kill me and said that he would let me live only if I did not raise an alarm. He even made me swear on my parents,” she added. After the accused escaped around 4 pm, the 76-year-old alerted her neighbours. A case was then registered under Sections 394 and 380 of the Indian Penal Code.
Rao’s daughter, Sudha, said that her parents’ house had been broken into in August last year and the Navghar police had assured her that they would check on her parents at least once every fortnight since they were senior citizens living alone.
Sudha said that the police had noted down her parents’ names and address as part of a special safety drive for senior citizens which was launched in 2012 at the insistence of the then police commissioner. Under the drive, the police are supposed to check on senior citizens fortnightly and remedy their problems, if any.
“We were promised that a policeman would visit my parents’ house every fortnight to check on them as they are senior citizens living alone, but no cop has showed up even once,” said Sudha, adding that the police have not solved even the August theft yet.
Incidents of robberies and thefts have been on the rise in the area, with 30 cases of theft, house breaking and robbery registered with the Navghar police station since the beginning of this year. Only five of these cases have been solved.
In April 2014, 70-year-old Laxmi Naik was found dead in her kitchen with her mouth stuffed and hands tied and even that case has not been solved more than a year on.
Senior police inspector Ramdas More of Navghar police station said, “I have checked the list again and Rao is not listed with our police station. But, after this incident, we will definitely start visiting her every day.
Asked about the increasing robberies and dacoities in the jurisdiction of the Navghar police station, More said, “We have been making maximum-possible effort to keep it under control.”