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India Guards its Children

September 11, 2012 permalink

India has intervened diplomatically to secure the return of Indrashish Saha, a boy seized in the name of protection in New Jersey. The boy is hospitalized for injuries sustained while falling out of bed, but child protectors are alleging shaken baby. Previous Indian intervention was successful in getting a protected child returned from Norway [1] [2] [3] [4].



India asks US to address parents' concerns in custody case

Indian authorities have requested the US State Department to address the concerns of an Indian couple, who have been given limited access to their one-year- old son after he underwent surgery for brain injury and are facing criminal probe for failing to take proper care of him.

The Consulate General of India here has taken up with the US authorities the case of the child, Indrashish Saha, son of Kolkata natives Debashish Saha and Pamela Saha.

The boy is currently in Children's Specialised Hospital, New Brunswick in New Jersey, and is being treated for injuries he sustained after he apparently fell from his bed at home last month.

Morris Country Prosecutors Office is also conducting a "criminal investigation" against the Sahas on how their son sustained the injuries. According to a complaint filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency, the court has determined that that the "removal of the child is necessary to avoid an ongoing risk to the life, safety or health of the child."

Indrashish is currently under the custody of child welfare services and the Sahas have been allowed to visit him only once a week under the supervision of the division or a division approved supervisor.

Saha conveyed to the Consulate General his concerns as well as those of his family "that the child has not yet been handed over to them," a Consulate statement said. "The Consulate General has requested the US Department of State (Office of Foreign Missions) in New York to have the concerns of the parents addressed. The embassy of India in Washington has also taken up the matter with the US Department of State," it added.

Saha's wife had told the doctors that her son fell off the bed while playing and his head hit the floor, after which he became unconscious.

However, the doctors treating Indrashish as well as the welfare agency say that the little boy could not have sustained such serious injuries just by falling off a bed. His medical condition indicates that he is suffering from "Shaken Baby Syndrome" and his injury is "a high energy injury," the doctors have said.

"Various doctors stated that the injuries Indrashish sustained were not consistent with the explanation that Debashish and Pamela Saha gave but were consistent with Shaken Baby Syndrome," the complaint said.

"The child was abused/neglected in that his physical, mental or emotional condition has been impaired or is in imminent danger of becoming impaired as the result of the failure of his parents to exercise a minimum degree of care and in supplying the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, education, medical or surgical care though financially able to do so or in providing the child with proper supervision or guardianship by unreasonably inflicting or allowing to be inflicted harm...," the complaint said.

Saha has denied that he or his wife neglected their child and is seeking support from the Indian government to send Indrashish back to India. The Sahas made their initial appearance in court on September 7 without a lawyer and the judge has set a date of September 14 when they would have to "show cause why an order should not be entered continuing the child under the care and supervision of the division and in the legal and physical custody of the division."

Saha, who last saw his son on September 6, said he wants to send the child back to India where he has relatives who can take care of him. He said he does not have relatives in US and does not want custody of his child to go to foster parents.

He is also looking for a lawyer to fight the case and said he has been in touch with the Consulate for help. The child protection division said it has "concerns as to how Indrasish sustained his injuries" and so he should be kept in custody of the court to "safeguard" his health and life."

Source: Deccan Herald

Addendum: New Jersey has agreed to free the child.



Custody row: New Jersey authorities agree to hand over child

Kolkata : The child welfare services in New Jersey, which had taken over the custody of one-year-old Indrashish, have agreed to hand over the child to a "bona fide guardian", his grand father said here Tuesday.

"My son (Debasish Saha) has told me from New Jersey that the US authorities have agreed to hand over the child to a 'bonafide guardian'. They have urged the ministry of external affairs (MEA, India) to suggest the name of the appropriate person who can take the custody," Nirmal Saha said.

Indrashish was taken into protective custody by US authorities after the child suffered a head injury Aug 9. The access to the child by his parents -- a US-based Indian couple from West Bengal -- has also been limited.

The US authorities have urged the Indian external affairs ministry, to verify through an NGO or an agency the person most suitable among the family's friends and relatives to be given custody of the child, he said.

Saha said that his son had suggested names of four relatives before the Court in New Jersey where the matter is being heard.

"It appears that after the US authorities get any response from MEA then only they would decide on who is the most suitable person to be given the custody of the child," he said.

Saha is among the people who can take the child's custody as suggested before the court in New Jersey. He had expressed his willingness to go to the US and take custody of his grandson.

Saha had met President Pranab Mukherjee and wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the external affairs ministry seeking their intervention in the matter.

Source: Two Circles

Addendum: The boy arrived home in February.



Ordeal ends at last, repatriated child is back from U.S.

Indrashish Saha
HOME SWEET HOME: Little Indrashish with his grandmother outside Kolkata airport on his arrival from the U.S. on Wednesday.
Photo: Sushanta Patronobish The Hindu

Fellow Bengalis on alien soil help beleaguered parents

Nearly six months after being taken away by United States Child Protection Services after he was hospitalised in New Jersey with head injuries, one-and-half-year-old Indrashish, son of an Indian couple residing in the U.S., returned here on Wednesday.

The child’s uncle Bhaskar Kundu, who brought Indrashish home, handed him over to the boy’s maternal grandmother Progati Basak on arrival at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport.

“The child should not have been taken away by U.S. authorities. There were no lapses on the part of his parents in bringing up the child…We will keep him in the city for a few days and try to give him medical intervention,” Ms. Basak said. Indrashish will be taken to his grandparents’ home at Gangarampur in West Bengal’s Uttar Dinajpur district.

Earlier this month, a local court in New Jersey directed that the child be returned to Ms. Basak. While allowing repatriation of Indrashish, the court dismissed the case filed by the New Jersey Child Protection Services against his parents. The child fell from bed and suffered serious head injuries on August 9, 2012, within two weeks of his landing, along with his parents Debashish and Pamela Saha, at Parsippany township.

Nirmal Krishna Saha, paternal grandfather, said the repatriation would never have been possible had civil rights activists and the Bengali community in the U.S. not come forward to help the boy’s parents. Basabi Basu told The Hindu over telephone from Pennsylvania that she learnt about Indrashish being taken away from his parents through an-email circulated by members of the community. “Had we not intervened, the harassment of the parents by the U.S. authorities would have continued.” They would have even lost the child and Indrashish could have been put up for adoption, Ms. Basu said.

Source: The Hindu