|Known for||Being sent to foster care in Germany by Jugendamt, German Child Services after a doctor reported a suspected sexual assault on her The Indian Express|
|Physical Stats & More|
|Date of Birth||February, 2021|
|Age (as of 2023)||2 Years|
|Religion||Jainism The Indian Express|
|Ethnicity||Gujarati The Indian Express|
|Food Habit||Although her family follows a strict vegetarian diet, Ariha Shah was fed non-vegetarian food in foster care in Germany. The Indian Express|
|Parents||Father- Bhavesh Shah (Software Engineer)
Mother- Dhara Shah
|Siblings||She is the only child of her parents.|
Some Lesser Known Facts About Ariha Shah (Baby Ariha)
- Ariha Shah is an Indian girl child who was separated from her parents by the German authorities on 23 September 2021 when she was just seven months old. The Jugendamt, German Child Services, sent her to foster care in Germany after a doctor reported a suspected sexual assault on her.
- His family has its roots in Gujarat, India, from where her father relocated to Berlin, Germany, in 2018, for his job.
- In September 2021, When Ariha was just seven months old, her grandparents came to visit her at home. Unfortunately, while Ariha was being looked after by her grandmother, she accidentally got hurt in her private area.
- Ariha’s parents got worried when they saw blood in her diaper, so they quickly took her to the doctor for help. The doctor treated Ariha’s injury and reassured her parents that she would be okay. However, when her parents took Ariha to the hospital for a follow-up, the doctor became suspicious that something bad might have happened to her. The doctor doubted the parents of sexual abuse. Soon after, the German Child Services called Jugendamt arrived at the hospital. They decided to take Ariha into their care and started an investigation into her parents for possible child abuse.
- In response to the situation, the Jugendamt took quick action and placed the child in foster care, allowing her parents limited visitation every two weeks. At the same time, authorities filed a case against the parents for alleged child sexual abuse, which triggered an investigation. However, the charges of assault were eventually dropped, and the parents were accused of negligence instead.
- In February 2022, the case against the parents was closed without any formal charges. However, despite this outcome, the child was not reunited with her parents.
- Instead, the Jugendamt pursued a civil custody case with the aim of terminating parental rights and obtaining permanent custody of the child. The parents have been engaged in a legal battle, fighting for custody in the German courts. In 2022, a psychologist assigned by the court conducted a detailed evaluation of the parents’ mental well-being.
- The evaluation recommended that it would be best for the child to stay with one parent in a specialized facility while allowing the other parent to have regular visits. However, due to practical reasons such as Bhavesh’s expiring visa, this arrangement was not possible.
- Unfortunately, before a court ruling was made, the Jugendamt decided to move Ariha to a facility specifically designed for children with special needs, where she currently resides.
- In 2022, Arindam Bagchi, the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), expressed the ministry’s ongoing efforts to repatriate Ariha back to India. He said, “We are dismayed to learn that the child was abruptly shifted away from her current foster parent to a specialised foster care arrangement … 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.” He further said, “We have been requesting Germany to return the child to India. The Embassy has repeatedly requested German authorities to ensure that Ariha’s connection with her cultural, religious and linguistic background is not compromised and sought consular access to the child as well as cultural immersion at the Indian Cultural Centre in Berlin,”
- In a remarkable display of cooperation across different political parties, 59 Members of Parliament from 19 political parties joined forces in 2023 to compose a collective letter. This letter was specifically addressed to Philipp Ackerman, the German ambassador in New Delhi, with the aim of seeking his assistance in facilitating the safe repatriation of Ariha Shah, a baby girl who had been residing in foster care in Berlin for over 20 months. With genuine concern and urgency, the MPs humbly requested Ambassador Ackerman to utilize all available means to ensure Ariha’s prompt return to India. The content
of the letter expressed their heartfelt plea for swift action in reuniting Ariha with her home country. It read, “India can well look after her own children. We request you to consider how your country would feel if a German baby was forcibly kept with Indian foster care. The Indian government has formally asked the German government of the child’s return to a Jain foster family in India under the supervision of Indian child welfare authorities.”
- The joint letter was signed by prominent Members of Parliament representing diverse political parties. Some of the notable signatories include Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and Shashi Tharoor from the Congress party, Hema Malini and Maneka Gandhi from the BJP, Kanimozhi from the DMK, Supriya Sule from the NCP, Mahua Moitra from the TMC, Ram Gopal Yadav from the SP, Manoj Jha from the RJD, Sanjay Singh from the AAP, Elamaran Kareem and John Brittas from the CPM, Harsimrat Kaur Badal from the Akali Dal, Kunwar Danish Ali from the BSP, Priyanka Chaturvedi from Shiv Sena (UBT), Binoy Viswam from the CPI, and Farooq Abdullah from the National Conference.
- The situation surrounding Ariha Shah’s case draws notable parallels to the case of Sagarika Chakraborty. In 2011, Norwegian authorities took away custody of Chakraborty’s two children, citing concerns about her parenting capabilities. Chakraborty’s challenging journey to regain custody of her children has inspired the Hindi film ‘Mrs. Chatterjee vs Norway’ (2023), starring Rani Mukerji. The film draws inspiration from Chakraborty’s relentless fight to reunite with her children.