Fifty-nine MPs from 19 political parties have written to the German ambassador to New Delhi seeking his intervention to ensure the return of an Indian child who was placed in Berlin’s child welfare custody in September 2021, reported PTI.
The child was seven months old when she suffered an accidental injury in the perineum for which she was hospitalised. Following an investigation into the possibility of child sexual abuse, the German authorities had put her in foster care, alleging harassment by her parents Dhara and Bhavesh Shah.
However, in February 2022, the case against the Shahs was closed and the hospital where the child had been admitted ruled out sexual abuse as the reason for the injury, reported PTI.
On Friday, the group of 59 MP urged German envoy, Philipp Ackerman, to send the child back to her parents since the charges against them have been dropped.
“We do not cast aspersions on any agency in your country and assume that whatever was done was thought to be in the best interests of the baby,” the MPs said. “We respect the legal procedures in your country, but given that there are no criminal cases pending against any member of the said family, it is more than time to send the baby back home.”
The signatories of the letter include Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan and his party colleagues Praneet Kaur, Shashi Tharoor, Nationalist Congress Party’s Supriya Sule, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, Trinamool Congress’ Mahua Moitra, National People’s Party’s Agatha Sangma, Shiromani Akali Dal’s Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Bharatiya Janata Party’s Maneka Gandhi, and National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah.
The MPs noted that the case took a year-and-a-half for an evaluation of the parents by a court-appointed psychologist and the German child services pressed for permanent custody of the child.
“The court-appointed psychologist recommended that the child should be placed with either parent in a parent-and-child facility, with the other parent regularly visiting her,” the MPs pointed out. “Even though this would be impractical as it would mean a prolonged stay in Germany, it is a recognition that the baby could be with her parents, under supervision. But, before court orders, the Jugendamt [German Child Services] removed the baby to a special needs facility.”
The MPs also said that the decision to move the child from one carer to another could cause deep trauma.
“Shifting her around from one carer to another will cause deep and damaging trauma to the child,” the letter said. “The parents are allowed only fortnightly visits. The videos of these meetings are heart wrenching and they reveal the deep bonds the baby has with her parents and the pain of separation.”
On Friday, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had said at a press conference that India has been “persistently advocating” for returning the child to her parents.
“The [Indian] Embassy has repeatedly requested German authorities to ensure that [the child’s] connection with her cultural, religious and linguistic background is not compromised and sought consular access to the child as well as cultural immersion at the Indian Cultural Centre in Berlin,” Bagchi said.