Send Ariha Shah To India At The Earliest: MEA To German Authorities

The Ministry of External Affairs today urged the German authorities to do all that is necessary to send Ariha Shah to India at the earliest. Ariha Shah is an Indian national and 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 MEA today wrote to the German officials saying, “Our efforts have been guided by the best interests of the child, which we believe can be fully realised only when she is in her home country where her socio-cultural rights can be safeguarded. Accordingly, we 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. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, during her visit to India, had also conveyed that the German side was “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”, added the MEA.

The MEA further 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”.

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The statement read, “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”.

“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”, reiterated the Ministry.