Dragged to court, teens want to return to Netherlands
CHENNAI: Their reunion had caused quite a flutter in the rustic fishing hamlet near Kanyakumari. But on Wednesday, barely a week after their emotional home-coming, Dutch teenagers, Melissa, 19, and Miquel, 18, were produced before the Madurai bench of the Madras high court following a habeas corpus plea filed by an activist, seeking to help Melissa stay back with her family.
After 14 years, Melissa and her brother Miquel were reunited with their mother Deklaselvam on August 19. Accompanied by their mentors and a volunteer, they arrived in Kanyakumari via Thiruvananthapuram to a tearful welcome by their parents and five siblings. But the reunion turned rather traumatic for Melissa, who pleaded with the Dutch officials, who accompanied her, to permit her to remain a little longer than the scheduled 10 days with her family from whom she had been separated when she was barely five and given up for adoption in The Netherlands. However, when quizzed about her desire to remain in India, Melissa told the bench comprising Justice K Suguna and Justice S Palanivelu that she would like to return to the Netherlands and come back soon to visit her family.
Activists alleged that the teenagers had been intimidated' into agreeing to return to the seaside town of Middelburg in The Netherlands where they now live. The court, however, closed the case based on Melissa's statement that she was going back to The Netherlands on her own, said Madurai-based advocate D Geetha who filed the habeas corpus petition on behalf of S Kannaiyan, who is working for the Netherlands-based Against Child Trafficking.
In his habeas corpus petition, Kanniyan said the girl was being prevented from staying back with her family even for a day and pleaded for a direction to Kanyakumari DSP M Sakthivel and Pieter Verheul, the Dutch volunteer accompanying the teenagers, to produce Melissa in court. "After going through pain and agony throughout her childhood and seeing love and affection in her life after 14 years, she is entitled to enjoy it," he said. But, if Melissa wanted to extend her stay by a month or so, it was up to her to approach the appropriate authority, the court said and closed the case.
Immigration officials point out that since the teenagers were of Indian origin, they could apply for the OCI ( Overseas Citizen of India) card, enclosing their applications with birth certificates, voter IDs of the parents and their adoption documents, which would enable them to stay in India.
Melissa and Miquel were among a few hundred children who were put up for adoption by a Chennai-based agency, Malaysian Social Services, without the knowledge of their parents. Melissa and Miquel, who were five and four years old respectively, were given away in adoption to a Dutch couple who subsequently separated. The children were later placed in a government home in The Netherlands. The adoption racket was busted in 2005, but the case, now handled by the CBI, is yet to see a closure.
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