59 MPs press Germany to repatriate 2-year-old Ariha Shah

Photo by Agto Nugroho on Unsplash

59 Members of Parliament from 19 political parties have written a joint letter to Germany’s Ambassador to India on Friday, urging him to do everything possible to repatriate Ariha Shah, a baby girl living in foster care in Berlin for more than 20 months, The Indian Express reported.

In the letter to Ambassador Philipp Ackerman, the MPs stated that it is essential to bring Ariha back to “her own country, people, culture and environment”. They wrote that “any delay will cause irreparable harm to the baby”.

The Union Government also officially asked Germany to let Ariha return to India, saying that it is her inalienable right as an Indian national.

Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi expressed India’s dismay that Shah has been moved around the German social care system, adding that New Delhi believes the change “is not in the child’s best interest and could have far-reaching consequences for her emotional and mental development.”

Ariha Shah Case

Ariha’s parents moved to Germany in 2018. The child has been in foster care since 23 September 2021, when German authorities took over her custody after she suffered an accidental injury.

She was seven months old then. The German authorities alleged that Ariha’s parents — Dhara and Bhavesh Shah — had harassed her. An investigation into alleged sexual assault was initially opened against the parents but was later dropped without charges.

Now Berlin Child Services have filed a civil custody case for the termination of parental rights.

The MPs are from opposing political parties like the BJP, Congress, the Left and the Trinamool Congress. They are lawmakers of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha of the Parliament.

Among the signatories of the letter are Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, his party colleague Shashi Tharoor, BJP’s Hema Malini and Maneka Gandhi, DMK’s Kanimozhi, NCP’s Supriya Sule, TMC’s Mahua Moitra, SP’s Ram Gopal Yadav, RJD’s Manoj Jha, AAP’s Sanjay Singh, CPI(M) Elamaran Kareem and John Brittas, Akali Dal’s Harsimrat Kaur Badal, BSP’s Kunwar Danish Ali, Shiv Sena (UBT)’s Priyanka Chaturvedi, CPI’s Binoy Viswam and National Conference MP Farooq Abdullah.

The MPs of BRS, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Kerala Congress (M), National People’s Party, and TDP are also its signatories.

“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,” reads the letter

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