Government looking into NRI child’s Swedish custody

June 7th, 2012 - 9:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, June 7 (IANS) After over a month’s efforts by a local NGO for the release of an NRI mother’s son from the custody of Swedish authorities in Gotland, the Indian external affairs ministry has said it is now looking into the matter, including the legal aspects.

The incident came to light after Fam Christer Johansson and his NRI wife Annie Johansson (Nirmal Kumar Bharos) wrote to a city-based NGO India’s Smile that their 11-year-old son Domenic has been taken into custody by the child welfare services of the European nation in 2009.

In a recent communication to Annie’s mother Ranjana Kumar in Maharashtra, MEA director(Central Europe) Tarika Roy said, “Full information regarding the case is being gathered, including legal aspects, so that the Government of India can decide on its future course of action. You will be kept informed of further development.”

The Swedish case has come close on the heels of the successful diplomatic efforts to secure the return to India of an NRI couple’s children Abhigyan and Aishwarya from forced foster care in Norway.

The child welfare services - Gotland Municipal Social Welfare Committee - claimed that Domenic was not properly cared for as per the Swedish law. The authorities cited two cavities in his baby teeth and that the Johanssons had opted to forgo immunisations for Domenic. They also said Domenic was not socialised enough with other children.

Christer, born and raised in Sweden had met Maharashtra girl Annie in India and the couple tied the knot April 24, 2000. They continued to reside in India, but were financially ruined after a devastating earthquake in the spring of 2001. They then migrated to Christer’s home in Sweden where Domenic was born months later.

“The Johanssons had opted for home schooling which is legal in Sweden as they had some financial problems and also wanted to set up base in India in the long run. They had told the Swedish authorities that they were planning a short visit to India and would do all medical tests and procedures on the child once they returned,” said India’s Smile secretary trustee Rajib Sarkar.

On June 25, 2009, when the Johanssons were sitting inside an aircraft for flying off to India, the police entered and took Domenic away.

“We were taken to the police station at Arlanda airport. No one answered our questions. Instead, a woman stepped inside the room and said, the social services wish to talk to your son for 5-10 minutes. Domenic was not returned after that,” Annie said in an appeal.

The child has been put in an emergency foster care.

Since then, the couple has been doing the rounds of courts, police stations and welfare committee offices, without any luck. They have been allowed to see their son only rarely.

Sarkar alleged that the external affairs ministry remained silent all these years despite being well abreast of the case.

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