MEA: Domenic, whose mother is India-born, is not an Indian national
Close on the heels of expatriate couple Sagarika and Anurup Bhattacharya's children — who were in foster care in Norway — being returned to the family following protracted diplomatic efforts, a couple in Sweden are pinning its hopes on the Indian government to get back their son, who is also in foster care in Sweden.
Domenic was taken away from his parents, India-born Annie and Christer Johanson, by the Swedish Social Services in June 2009, when he was seven. The family was in a plane waiting for the flight to India to take off from the airport at Stockholm when policemen entered the aircraft and asked them to de-board.
Completely cut off
“Domenic was taken away from us and put into foster care. Initially, we were able to meet him every fortnight, but for the last one-and-a-half-years we have not seen our son. We have not even had a chance to speak to him on the telephone during this period,” Christer Johanson, his father, told The Hindu over telephone from Gotland in Sweden on Friday.
However, the Government of India has said it will not be able to intervene in the matter as Domenic is not an Indian national.
“The child was born in Sweden and is not an Indian national. His father is not an Indian national. His mother is a Person of Indian Origin (PIO), but is no longer an Indian citizen,” said Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin in New Delhi over telephone.
The Johansons claim that on the day they were returning to India in 2009 they were told that they would not be allowed to take their son with them.
Authorities at the Gotland Social Services (GSS) refused to comment on why Domenic was taken away from his parents, pointing out that Swedish law prohibits them from revealing any personal details of the case.
“There is no reason to take any child away from their parents when they want to travel abroad…Domenic was put into foster care in June 2009 and there was a court decision that he should be put there…However I cannot comment on the circumstances or the grounds on which Domenic was taken away,” said Hans Haglund, Secretary for Investigation of the GSS.
Mr. Haglund also refused to comment on why the family had been denied visitation rights.
The Johansons met in India before they left for Sweden. Annie was born in India and wants to return to the country with her husband and child. She claims she continues to be an Indian citizen and has never applied for Swedish citizenship. However, her Indian passport expired in 2010.
“I wanted to renew my passport when we travelled to India in 2009. But my son was taken away from me and I could not travel to India to renew my passport,” she said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Johanson has asked the authorities of the Indian embassy in Stockholm whether he or his son could be given Indian citizenship.
“They have told me that we cannot be given citizenship, but I may apply for a PIO card and Domenic may apply for either a PIO card or an OIC [Overseas Citizen of India] card,” he said.