India is in touch with parents and German authorities to find a way forward: MEA on German foster care case
17 March, 2023 | Vaishali Sharma
The Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday said that the issue pertaining to legal custody of an Indian toddler in German foster care “is a sensitive case” and the “Indian Embas...
The Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday said that the issue pertaining to legal custody of an Indian toddler in German foster care “is a sensitive case” and the “Indian Embassy and Foreign Ministry have been in close touch with the parents and with the German authorities to find a way forward.”
In a weekly media briefing of MEA, spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, “It is a sensitive case. Foreign Secretary is dealing with the case. Both the embassy and foreign ministry have been in close touch with parents and German authorities to find a way forward. It includes baby-infant child and there are issues related to privacy.” Her parents are making a desperate plea to the authorities in a bid to bring their baby back home to India.
“Our Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra dealt with this topic during the visit of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in the press conference. Let me just emphasize what he has spoken – He talked about great sensitivity, something we care deeply and both the Indian Embassy and Foreign Ministry have been in close touch with the parents and with the German authorities to find a way forward. He also added that it involves a baby infant child, there are serious issues related to privacy,” said Bagchi.
The MEA spokesperson also said that the parents are in touch with the ministry and there is a meeting which is going to take place today.
Meanwhile, the baby’s parents said, “We are not getting a fair trial. We are not getting the chance to present our case, they are listening to just one party.”
According to media reports, the baby girl was accidentally hurt by her grandmother in September last year. After this incident, the German authorities accused the couple of sexually assaulting the child and took her away.
The mother said, “We are not here for ourselves, we came here to get support for our baby, who is in German foster care for 19 months for no fault of hers. She turned 2 just recently. When she was 7 months old, her private parts were hurt in an accident. We took her to a doctor who said everything was fine.
When we went for a follow-up, they informed the child service and alleged that the child had been sexually abused. We voluntarily gave our DNA samples to prove our innocence. After an investigation by the police, the Public Prosecutor’s office closed the case in February 2022 without any charges. We thought that we will get our baby back but the matter went to a family court.”
In September 2021, the minor was taken away by German child services. The doctors called child services and gave them her custody saying that the nature of her injury suggested that she was sexually abused. The parents claimed that they were subsequently accused of sexual abuse and the baby was taken away by Jugendamt (German child services) from the hospital.
The child’s father told ANI, “They (German child care) told me that the psychological evaluation of the baby will take place and it is on the basis of the test that they will decide whether to return the baby to us or not. However, we came to know that the process will take 1-2 years. So, we requested to transfer the baby to an Indian foster family so that she could learn an Indian language. But they didn’t listen to our pleas. During the psychological evaluation test, it was said that the bonding between the baby and us was very good and that she can stay with us. But we are not getting a fair trial. We have got our baby’s medical report checked by experts, who reiterated that it was accidental injury.”
In February 2022, the public prosecutor dropped the case without charges against the parents after a full police investigation, the father said, adding that the hospital that initially suspected sexual abuse said there was none. However, the Jugendamt did not return the baby.
“We are not getting the chance to present our case, they are listening to just one party. The psychological assessment was clear. The court-appointed expert told us that the baby can stay with her parents, but they are not ready to listen to us. If we don’t get a fair trial, how will we win?” said the mother.
She claimed further that despite being an Indian citizen, her toddler was not being allowed to meet any Indians in Germany, not even officials of the Indian Embassy. The bay is only being taught German. Although she is a vegetarian, she is given non-vegetarian food, she alleged.
“We are vegetarian. When we tell them to give baby vegetarian food, they say that non-vegetarian food is important for nutrition. We grew up on a vegan diet and are not deficient when it comes to nutrition. They gave us permission to meet our baby for an hour. In September 2022, the court said the visit was going great, and as per their reports, we got to visit our baby two times for an hour each in a month.
When we go to visit our baby, we whisper our mantras to her ear. To this, they say we are fundamentalists. If they can’t understand our culture, how will they understand us and our pleas?” the mother argued.
The parents along with the Indian government have been working for a long time to repatriate the baby to India.
The Jugendamt is allegedly dragging its feet in the matter so that the baby girl becomes a naturalised German citizen, the parents alleged.
“They don’t have anything against us as the case regarding the injury to private parts has been dismissed. Now they are questioning our parental capabilities. But the court-appointed expert said the baby can stay with us. Now they are just buying time so that they could use the continuity principle. According to them, since our baby hasn’t been with us for the last 19 months and as she has adapted to German culture, language, and food, she has become German. We have been telling them right from the beginning that she is Gujarati. This is her rightful identity by birth,” her mother said.