Muslim couple to approach high court over son’s custody

July 25th, 2008 - 10:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Ahmedabad, July 25 (IANS) A Muslim couple plans to approach the Gujarat High Court after a lower court ruled that their son who was separated from them during the 2002 communal riots should live with his adopted Hindu parents. Rights activist Teesta Setalvad, of Citizens For Justice and Peace (CJP), said Friday: “We will be approaching the high court against the Metropolitan Court judgement that the missing boy Muzaffar should live with the adopted parents.”

Despite her lawyers’ warning her not to speak to the media until the high court takes over the case, a reluctant Teesta told IANS from Mumbai: “Our aim of approaching the Metropolitan Court was that the boy Muzaffar rightly belongs to Jebunissa Sheikh and Mohammed Salim Sheikh, who had lost him during the post Godhra riots from their Dhoop-Singh-ni-Chali home when the boy was just two-and-a-half years old. The police failed to do its duty by searching for the parents nor did it advertise about the missing boy. The illegality of police action cannot be overlooked and that is our main grouse,” she said.

As per Metropolitan Court judge G.N. Patel’s ruling on Wednesday, Muzaffar should be with his foster parents Vikram and Meena Patni as the boy wants to stay with them. The Patnis have three children and so does Jebunissa.

“Though we do not want to shock the child but the fact remains that his original parents want to have their son back who was lost in tragic circumstances. Natural justice demands that the boy be re-united with its biological parents at the earliest,” Teesta said.

When residents of the poverty-stricken Dhoop Singh Chali were trapped in the inferno of communal violence in February 2002, Jebunissa and Salim Shaikh had to run for their lives taking refuge in Gulbarg Society. But in the melee they lost Muzaffar. A police constable later found the abandoned boy and taking pity on him, took Muzaffar to the house of his cousin sister Meena Patni. Meena and her husband Vikram then adopted Muzaffar and named him Vivek without knowing his true identity.

A special investigation team (SIT) appointed by the Supreme Court came to know of the boy and informed the couple that Muzaffar was alive. A DNA test too was conducted by the SIT which confirmed Jebunissa as Vivek’s mother. But the metropolitan court ruling has compounded the misery of Muzaffar’s unfortunate parents, Teesta said.

“Salim and Jebunissa are very upset over the court’s order,” Teesta said. “‘I can’t stay without Muzaffar even for a day. I want him back at any cost,’ his anguished mother Jebunissa is now saying,” Teesta said.

“It is a case of illegal confinement. The Gujarat police has failed to do its duty. We have now decided to approach the high court over the illegality of the police action,” she said.

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