Last Updated: June 02, 2023, 15:07 IST
After repeated attempts by parents of Ariha Shah, an Indian baby who has been confined to foster care in Germany, to reach out to authorities seeking their support to get their daughter back, there seems to be some ray of hope for the family. Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde has now written to the Ministry of External Affairs highlighting their case and help the parents to get Ariha back home.
The letter sent by Shinde to S Jaishankar, a copy of which is with CNN-News18, reads, “Baby Ariha Shah is stranded in foster home in Germany for the last 20 months. Her parents Dhara and Bhavesh Shah belong to Mumbai, Maharashtra, and are fighting relentlessly to bring their baby back in India.”
Ariha’s parents met the CM last week, following which he requested the EAM to “give in-person appointment to the parents to understand their concerns and details of the case.”
This development comes in after the parents returned to India to request the Indian authorities to help their case, after a hearing was held more than 10 days ago in Germany.
“On the basis of the court order there (Germany), Ariha has now been sent to an orphanage. We don’t really know what kind of people she will have to co-habit in the orphanage. We are worried about her,” said Dhara.
Dhara further said with their German visa expiring in the next two months, if the process is not expedited, they will lose custody of Ariha forever, which is why they are trying to reach out to the Indian government for support.
CNN-News18 had in March exclusively spoken to parents of Ariha when they were trying to reach out to the authorities.
What is Baby Ariha’s Case?
Ariha has lived in a foster care for over a year-and-a-half, and was only seven months old when she was separated from her parents. Ever since, they have been allowed to meet her only once every 15 to 20 days.
The family said the child had a genital injury when they took her to a hospital, which informed the German government, following which she was taken away. The parents further said the German authorities had closed the sexual assault case against them without charges, but did not return their child to them.
Berlin Child Services has filed a civil custody case for the termination of parental rights against them. The parents are fighting a legal battle even as a trial is on in Germany to decide who gets the custody of the child.
The parents said there were over 50,000 such children, who had been taken away from their families and lodged in foster care. Many parents from other nationalities were also facing a similar problem, they said, citing the case of a Romanian family that got its seven children back in 2020 after a long legal battle.