New Delhi: The Indian embassy in Germany has been repeatedly requesting the German authorities to ensure the return of the child, who has been placed in the custody of Germany's youth welfare in 2021, Ministry of External Affairs said adding that they are dismayed to learn that.
Addressing the briefing on Friday, Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, "We are dismayed to learn that the child was abruptly shifted away from her current foster parent to a specialised foster care arrangement. The manner in which this shift was carried out is a matter of concern. We and the parents believe that this rapid change is not in the child's best interest and could have far-reaching consequences for her emotional and mental development."
He further stated, "We would like to reiterate that Ariha Shah is an Indian national and her nationality and socio-cultural background is the most important determinant of where her foster care is to be provided. We urge German authorities to do all that is necessary to send Ariha to India at the earliest, which is also her inalienable right as an Indian national. We remain committed to ensuring the return of Ariha Shah to India."
Talking about the case, Bagchi said that the Ministry of External Affairs and the Embassy of India, Berlin, have been persistently advocating for the return of Ariha Shah to India. The child is an Indian national and she was placed in the custody of Germany's Youth Welfare Office (Jugendamt) on 23 September 2021, when she was 7 months old. She has now been in foster care for more than 20 months."
The child, Ariha Shah was accidentally hurt by her grandmother in September 2021, following which the German authorities took the baby away.
He further stated that the efforts have been guided by the best interests of the child, which India believe can be fully realised only when she is in her home country where her socio-cultural rights can be safeguarded.
Accordingly, the Embassy have been requesting Germany to return the child to India. The Embassy has repeatedly requested German authorities to ensure that Ariha'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, he stated.
He also quoted German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock statement on the case suring her visit to India, "also bearing in mind the cultural identity of each child that is taken care of by the youth offices in Germany." Unfortunately our requests in this regard for safeguarding Ariha's national and cultural identity have not been met.
"India has a robust child welfare and protection system, and there are potential foster parents in India who are willing to bring up the child in her own socio-cultural milieu. The German authorities have been made aware of India's child protection system and the details of potential foster parents have also been shared with them. Ariha's continued placement in German foster care and infringement of her social, cultural and linguistic rights is of deep concern to the Government of India and the parents," he added.