The Ministry of External Affairs earlier this week summoned the German Ambassador Philipp Ackermann and asked him to ensure that the 28-month-old baby Ariha is repatriated to India as soon as possible. In a strong message sent to the German Envoy India said that the child’s cultural rights and rights as an Indian are being violated.
Ariha Shah was seven months old when she was placed in the custody of Germany’s Youth Welfare Office on September 23, 2021, after she suffered an accidental injury.
Speaking on the matter, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Thursday (August 3) that “high priority” is being given to the case and the German Ambassador has been summoned this week in this regard. German authorities have been asked to bring back the baby girl at the earliest, he said, adding that the MEA is in touch with them.
#WATCH | MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on baby Ariha Shah’s case, “We are giving high priority to this case… We have called the German Ambassador this week regarding this. We’ve asked the German authorities to bring back the child at the earliest. We are in touch with the… pic.twitter.com/8A0rk3Stgz
— ANI (@ANI) August 3, 2023
“We are giving high priority to this case… We have called the German Ambassador this week regarding this. We’ve asked the German authorities to bring back the child at the earliest. We are in touch with the German authorities,” Bagchi told the media, assuring that India will continue to press the German authorities on the matter.
The Ministry of External Affairs and the Embassy of India in Berlin have been persistently advocating for the return of Ariha Shah to India. Earlier in June this year, Arindam Bagchi had pleaded with the German government “to do all necessary to send Ariha to India as soon as possible, which is also her inalienable right as an Indian national.”
In a letter to the German ambassador to India, Philipp Ackermann, earlier in June, 59 members of Parliament representing 19 political parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party, Congress, the Left, and the Trinamool Congress asked him to take all necessary steps to facilitate the little girl’s return to India as soon as possible.
On 16th March 2023, Arindam Bagchi – the spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry said in a press conference that the foreign secretary is dealing with the issue of the 3-year-old girl Ariha Shah who is in German child rights custody for the last one-and-half year.
German court rejects custody pleas of her Indian parents; hands over the child to local agency
Despite repeated appeals made by the government of India, on June 13, a district court in Pankow, Germany, refused custody of Ariha Shah, a 28-month-old Indian girl, to her biological parents and handed her to Jugendamt, the German juvenile services in two separate judgments.
The court rejected Dhara and Bhavesh Shah’s request to have the child returned to them directly or, at the very least, given to a third party, the Indian Welfare Services, and instead handed over the child to Jugendamt.
The court declared that the Central Youth Welfare Office of Berlin would be responsible for making decisions regarding her whereabouts while acting as her temporary guardian
Ariha Shah was 14 months old when German authorities took her into custody
The Shah family members have also started an online petition to gather public support to get their daughter back into custody. In this petition, the details of the ordeal are also described. According to this petition, Ariha Shah’s father was posted in Germany on a work visa as a software engineer. In September 2021, the infant Ariha Shah was accidentally hurt by his paternal grandmother. When her parents brought her to the hospital, they were charged with sexual assault and the baby was taken away.
It is said in the petition that the criminal inquiry was concluded without charges in February 2022, but Ariha Shah is still in the custody of German authorities. Berlin Child Services has filed a civil custody case to terminate the parental rights of the Shah couple. This lawsuit will take 2-3 years to complete, the petition said.