American actress Jenna Morasca had famously stated : “As human beings we value the experience that comes with age. We are reminded over and over again with statements like ‘older and wiser’ and ‘respect your elders,’ promoting age as something to be cherished and respected. “
But as a matter of great pain and discomfort with the speed of life changing under the garb of technology in once close knitted, compassionate society of Kashmir the elders are finding themselves at the receiving end , with more and more elders cutting across economic and social sections being abandoned by their children and relatives.
Pertinently, the recent image of abandoned elderly transgender in capital city Srinagar showed how grievous the issue is . The administration swung into action only after a social media storm. Painful condition of Ghulam Nabi Mir, a Kashmiri transgender hailing from North Kashmir’s Bandipora district aged 70 , sleeping on the footpath outside the Srinagar UN Office aptly described the gravity of this issue.
The ground pulse is that We have been listening since ages unfulfilled promises from the consecutive state governments of creating rehabilitation homes for people in need, especially abandoned in their old age by relatives often found wandering in hostile weather conditions on the streets of Srinagar and other parts of kashmir.
Ghulam Ahmad ( Name Changed ), a case of elderly neglected by a child belonging to a posh area in Srinagar states , “ I am from good financial ground but feeling a need of elderly old age home to take care of me as my children have all left me to foreign lands and come here for just few weeks in a year . In this day and age one cannot trust the servant and his or her background easily .The need of the hour is to build elderly homes were deprived elders cutting across social and economic boundaries meet and get cared so as to lead healthy and interactive life .
Rights activists are also raising genuine questions . Mushtaq ul Haq Ahmad Sikandar , an eminent activist states : “The society with each passing day is growing callous. The growing materialism is directly proportional with our apathy towards old and physically challenged. Despite our strong boasting about being a religious society, the problem of abandoned elderly is growing though not in epidemic proportions, but as a problem it needs to be reckoned. The NGOs and state can establish some homes with permanent lodging and boarding for elderly. But being a Muslim majority society the women and men who are not related to each other can’t exist under a single roof. So some different arrangement needs to be worked out. Also some recreation centres need to be started too in different areas where elders can spend their time and socialize with each other.”
On the otherhand, authorities are also questioned for hallow talks in this regard and every year just promising shelter homes and doing nothing.
Sheikh Imran, Deputy Mayor Srinagar City while talking with News Kashmir stated : “We would be definitely looking to possibility of setting old age homes at least in Srinagar city for elderly people as the time is taking negative direction and many elderly are feeling heat of troubled times in the this day and age, especially those who are abandoned either by their kids or are unfortunately childless. The pain of elderly people goes unnoticed in Kashmir and is being clearly sidelined by other issues. With the zeal and enthusiasm to give our city and Kashmir a new direction we would definitely try to give practical shape to the idea of perfect shelter for elderly people. ”