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The New Normal

Kolkata's elderly face hurdles in police verification of those who run errands

In most such situations, the senior citizen has no choice but to hire the help without any identity proof or the scope for a background check

Monalisa Chaudhuri | Published 09.09.21, 06:50 AM
In most such situations, the senior citizen has no choice but to keep the help without an ID or the scope for a background check.

In most such situations, the senior citizen has no choice but to keep the help without an ID or the scope for a background check.

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Errands personnel hired by elderly Kolkatans to assist them in chores outside the house, especially during the pandemic, are often refusing to submit their identity documents and threatening to quit the job if the employer insists.

In most such situations, the senior citizen has no choice but to hire the help without any identity proof or the scope for a background check.

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Many senior citizens are trying to engage workers for chores like handling bank documents, paying utility bills or purchasing grocery during the pandemic. 

An elderly couple in north Kolkata were recently left in a spot when a man they had engaged on the advice of a family friend to handle their banking-related work said it was “insulting” to be asked for his Aadhaar or PAN card.

The couple wanted to avoid queuing up at nationalised banks during the pandemic and so, were forced to engage the stranger without checking his identity and entrust him with all their original bank documents.

In another instance, the professional who had referred such a man to an elderly citizen took offence when the old man asked the help to submit a photo identity document.

“Amra chini toh. O chor naki, je kagoj potro joma korte hobe? (We know him. Is he a thief that he will have to submit his documents?)” the old man had quoted the professional as saying.

Police said they were aware of the problem.

Periodic police campaigns have convinced many employers to follow the norms advised but the message does not seem to have reached the help.

Many of them think being asked to submit a document means the employer is suspecting their integrity.

Several officers The Telegraph spoke to suggested ways to overcome this.

“The employer should fill in the form (available in police stations) with details of the help and clearly mention that the person has refused to share his/her documents. In such cases, police can directly call up the person and ask for the documents,” said an officer in south Kolkata. 

Another officer said when a help refused to share his/her personal documents, it is most important to keep at least a photograph. “If the person gets offended to be clicked, take a photograph on the pretext of clicking a group photograph,” an officer of the rank of assistant commissioner said.

Noting down the details of the person who referred the help and keeping them handy is another option, some officers said. 

Several Kolkatans The Telegraph spoke to felt there was a need to explain to workers that being asked to submit documents did not mean they were being eyed with suspicion and would be held responsible for any crime in the household. 

“Just like motorists should not feel offended when they are stopped at random and asked to show their driving licence, people should not feel insulted if employers ask for their identity documents,” said a resident of Ballygunge, south Kolkata. 

An elderly retired bank officer in Southern Avenue in south Kolkata feels just like the police try to sensitise employers and landlords to fill up “domestic help or tenant” forms and submit them with the local police station, similarly, they should try to create awareness among those who are hired that “being asked to show a documents is not a comment on their character”. 

“We all submitted our documents when our offices hired us. We just need to make our employees understand this simple thing,” he said.

Police bust fake call centre in New Alipore, arrest 22

Police raided a fake call centre in New Alipore and arrested 22 people on Tuesday night.

The accused used to call people in Australia posing as officials of e-commerce giant Amazon and trick them into divulging their banking details.

The 22 arrested are from various places of the city, including Behala, Tiljala, Bansdroni, Golf Green and Chetla.

A team comprising officers of the anti-rowdy squad and the cyber cell raided the first floor of a building on Bankim Mukherjee Sarani on Tuesday night.

The arrested have been remanded in police custody till September 14.

Last updated on 09.09.21, 06:50 AM
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