In a rerun of the Norway child custody drama, New Jersey based couple Debashis and Pamela Saha have been fighting with the United States child protection agency over the custody of their one year-old son, Indrashis. The grandparents of the child, who live in Bengal, are planning on requesting both the Centre and the state government to provide a lawyer for the couple.
The grandparents told HT that they were willing to take custody of their grandson, but could not imagine allowing an agency or third party to get guardianship of the child.
The incident is a near re-run of the 2011 incident in Norway, where authorities detained a four-month-old and a threeyear-old from a Bengali household, before handing custody over to their uncle, following a prolonged cross-border drama.
An IBM employee in New Jersey Debashis Saha originally hails from Balurghat in north Bengal. He and Pamela were married in Kolkata in 2009, and left for the US July this year. The couple is seeking custody of Indrashis, who sustained multiple injuries after a fall from the bed.
The US child protection agency has restricted access to the baby, holding the couple responsible for the injuries. They maintain that such injuries could not result from a simple fall. Indrashis is currently undergoing treatment at a hospital.
“I appeal to the government to provide a lawyer for my son. Good lawyers are expensive in the US and my son cannot afford one. The next hearing is on September 14 and we want our son defended properly. I will send a letter seeking help to the President, Prime Minister and chief minister,” said Debashis’s father, Nirmal Saha, who is hopeful of winning the legal battle if provided with a good lawyer.
“If we do not have a good lawyer and we lose, it will take a long time to get them back to India,” added Saha. The parents are planning to go to the US to help their son and daughter-in-law.
Parents of Debashis and Pamela also alleged that US authorities were mishandling the baby. “We heard that the baby is continuously crying and not being taken care of. They are not feeding him properly. Cold milk from the refrigerator is being given to the baby. When my son questioned them, they said the baby would stop crying on his own and feed when he is hungry,” said Nirmal Saha.
“The baby is just a year old and needs his mother’s milk. He will fall sick without parental care,” said Pragati Basak, Pamela’s mother, who also lives in South Dinajpur.
Parents and relatives have also said that they are willing to take custody of the baby. “We are ready to take the baby. Give him to us,” said Pragati Basak.
“We don’t want our grandchild to be handed over an agencyor third party even for a day. My son said they would soon the kid from hospital and keep him in an undisclosed location. They would only be allowed to see him for a couple of hours periodically,” said Debashis’ father.