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"German authorities have granted counsellor access to Baby Ariha": MEA

New Delhi: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on Thursday highlighted the concerns regarding the Baby Ariha case and said that the German authorities have granted counsellor access to Baby Ariha. 

"German authorities granted counsellor access to Baby Ariha on August 31. The interaction with the child included the relevance of cultural immersion with a view to enable the child to remain connected with Indian traditions and culture," the MEA spokesperson highlighted. 

While addressing the weekly press briefing, Bagchi further assured that the Indian government is in constant engagement with the German authorities on this case to safeguard the child.  
Moreover, he said that the resources related to Indian festivals and customs were provided by the Indian embassy to keep the child in touch with her faith and culture. 
"Resource material relating to Indian festivals, customs and practices were handed over by our embassy with the expectation that the child's caregiver would incorporate the same in her routine to enable her to remain in touch with her faith and culture. We remain in constant engagement with the German authorities on this matter to safeguard the child," Bagchi added. 
Last month, Dhara Shah, mother of Ariha Shah, an Indian baby in German foster care, held a demonstration on Friday at Jantar Mantar demanding that German authorities allow Ariha to celebrate Independence Day with the Indian Community in Germany in order to protect her cultural rights.

"We will go to the German embassy. We will request the German ambassador that 15th August is coming and every Indian has the right to celebrate it. We will ask him to let Ariha celebrate the Indian independence day. She should not be deprived of her cultural identity," Dhara Shah said while speaking to ANI.
The child, Ariha Shah, was accidentally hurt by her grandmother in September 2021 following which the German authorities took the baby away. She is currently under German foster care. Since Baby Ariha's family urged the authorities to look into their matter, the Indian Government has consistently raised the issue with the German authorities.

Earlier, in this regard, Bagchi said that the MEA and the Embassy of India in Berlin have been persistently advocating for the return of Ariha Shah to India.
He said that the government has urged 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," he added.
"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. 

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