Fate struck in an evil way on Dhara and Bhavesh Shah in a foreign land as circumstance separated them from their seven month old daughter. After 8 months, the couple is still struggling to get the daughter back.
Dhara, whose family resides in Ahmedabad got married to Mumbai based Bhavesh Shah. Bhavesh who was a software engineer got a job in an IT company's development center at Berlin. The couple shifted to Berlin in August 2018 after which they were blessed with a baby girl Ariha in February 2021. While they were there, Bhavesh’s mom-dad visited them in Berlin to help them during early parenting days.
According to Dhara, "One day we noticed some blood in the kid's diaper. Unable to know what might have caused it, we took the child to a doctor, who said that there was nothing serious. After two days, just out of precaution they again visited the doctor. However, after examining the child the doctor called some officials. The officials took the baby in their custody and charged me and my husband with sexual abuse." The Gujarati Jain couple tried to give clarifications. However, they cannot speak German and the only interpreter available was of Pakistan origin urdu speaking and not a very good translator of Hindi to German. Being a native Gujarati, Dhara is not proficient with English and Hindi languages.
According to Dhara's husband Bhavesh, "we started a legal battle to get the custody of the child. The process of DNA testing and diagnosis took about 4 months, at the end it was proved that there was no sexual assault of the kid. In the meantime, it was also confessed by my mother (the kid's grandmother) that the bleeding was caused by the hurting of her finger while trying to handle the baby. She could not say it before for the fear of getting blamed. An affidavit for the same was also presented to the court."
Once the charges were cleared, the officials asked the parents that in order to get the custody of the child, they need to clear the fit-to-be-parents tests. The couple has already faced two sessions, however, the legal proceedings may take long as per the law of the land.
The family that strictly follows Jain religion has been urging authorities to ensure that the child gets appropriate vegetarian food and an appropriate environment, while not in their custody. But, the same is not followed so far by them. The parents have also appealed the officials that till the time they are considered appropriate to handle the baby, the officials keep them with a Jain Gujarati family in India, as it is the right of the child to grow in her own religion, culture, family and nation. They have also made procedures with the Social welfare department in India to execute the same.
Recently, it was the due date to extend the couple and baby's German visa. The child service officer who brought the baby talked with the German official in German language after which, instead of returning the passport to parents it was handed over to the child service officer.
Now, the couple fears that if the legal battle extends longer, the baby may be de-nationalosed and converted as German and not be returned to them on the continuity principal, according to which as the baby is growing using German mother tongue and food habits and it might be inappropriate now to change the entire culture and diet for the little girl. They may also denationalise the baby's Indian citizenship to German. After which even the Indian government will not be able to do anything.
The couple has sent letters to India’s MEA through reputed organisations like JITO, Prasadham, JEET & SanskarShakti, to act for the custody of child to her extended family in India, as the government has done in previous similar cases. But, unfortunately, as Ariha already turns 15-month-old, there has not been any developments so far.