Jain community members protest outside German Consulate demanding repatriation of baby Ariha

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KOLKATA:  A group of members from Jain community on Sunday staged protests outside the German Consulate in Kolkata demanding the repatriation of 2-year-old Ariha Shah, who has been living in foster care in Berlin, back to India.

The community members gathered outside the German Consulate and held a demonstration demanding to bring baby Ariha back to her parents in India.

“We have requested the PMO and the External Affairs Ministry to take immediate action. No girl should be deprived of her mother’s love. Ariha needs her mother, culture and her environment. We want Ariha to grow up in the Jain community,” Vikram Bora, one of the members, said.

“The case is against humanity. The German government has taken her away. There were few allegations on her parents in the beginning but they are now cleared,” said another member of the community.

Earlier this week, The Indian community in Germany also staged a protest for the repatriation of Ariha Shah back to India.

Around 150 to 200 Indians gathered in Frankfurt city of Germany to stage a peaceful protest demanding the repatriation of Ariha who has been in foster care in Germany since September 23, 2021.

In December last year, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar raised the issue with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock.

On July 15, protestors gathered in Frankfurt to stage a protest highlighting the violation of Ariha’s cultural rights and rejection of the Indian government’s appeal.

Ariha is a child of Indian heritage and is at the centre of an ongoing custody battle.

Protestors emphasized the urgent need to respect and protect Ariha’s cultural identity stating that the community believes in preserving cultural rights regardless of borders and aims to amplify their voices through the gathering.

In June, Dhara Shah, Ariha’s mother said that she trusted the Government of India adding that if there will be a Prime Minister-level intervention in the case then her daughter can return to India.

While talking to ANI, mother Dhara Shah said, “Our child has been separated from us for the past 20 months. I trust the Indian government and request that once there is PM-level intervention in the case, my daughter will return soon.”

In this regard, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had said that the MEA and the Embassy of India in Berlin have been persistently advocating for the return of Ariha Shah to India.

Previously, during a weekly media briefing, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had said, “MEA 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 was placed in the custody of Germany’s Youth Welfare Office (Jugendamt) on 23 September 2021, when she was seven months old. She has now been in foster care for more than 20 months.”

He further mentioned that government urge German authorities should send Ariha to India at the earliest.

“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 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,” he said.

Earlier speaking to reporters, Ariha’s mother had said that the child was accidentally hurt by her grandmother in September 2021 following which the German authorities took her away. (ANI)

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