CHENNAI: Seven thirty on a chill February evening:
residents of the Pulianthope slum off the Pulianthope
high road in North Chennai had gathered outside their
shanties to cook their last meal for the day.
Older kids played by the light of dimming street lamps.
As the lights went out for a split second, a figure
skulking in the darkness, moved in swiftly, picking up
1½ year-old Subash N who had been laid to sleep on a
"My wife had gone to fetch water when the lights went
off. By the time she came back, our child was gone,"
says Nageshwar Rao, whose son Subash went missing on
February 18, 1999. The abduction had taken place in
front of several elders and 15 other children who had
been playing nearby.
Subash was one among three children identified by the
city crime branch (CCB) in 2005 to have been abducted by
Thiruverkadu-based adoption agency, Malaysian Social
Service (MSS) for inter-country adoption purposes .
Nageshwar Rao, the father of the boy, says that three
new people had moved into the slum to identify and
narrow down on potential victims.
"We have had no help from the authorities so far. In
fact, when I pestered the police about where in America,
my son was, they threatened to put me behind bars. The
last time we were contacted by any investigating team
was six months back when the CBI took over the case,"
says a wretched but resolved Nageshwar.
In the first three years that his son went missing,
Nageshwar mounted a search party that worked its way to
the city of Hyderabad. Relief came only six years later
when the police learned about MSS' illegal activities,
by closing in on the whereabouts of one of the other
victims, Jabeen Saalia.
Jabeen, a chirpy 3-year-old, was whisked away right
before her brother, Sadaam Hussein's eyes. Hussein had
brought her to a nearby tea-stall to get her a drink. "Ammi
had to go to the market and little Jabeen had asked for
water. So I took her to the stall and just I was paying
the cashier, a man swooped down and made away with her
into a waiting auto," says Hussein who was the last in
the Saalia family to see their pretty-eyed, Jabeen.
It was with this 3-year-old's case that the CCB came to
know of the inter-country adoption racket. Accusations
of child kidnapping between two men at a local bar in
2005 alerted the police. Two men (Sheikh Dawood and
Manoharan) and women (Sabeera and Nawjeen) working for
MSS were picked up. Authorities then closed in on the
adoption agency's owners, PV Ravindranath and wife
Vatsala, and seized files of 120 children sent overseas
for adoption. Thirteen had been sent to Australia. One
file matched with Jabeen's picture.
For the first time in seven years the Saalia household
celebrated Id. But their joy was to be short-lived .
Investigations dragged on for two years. It took a
habeas corpus writ filed by human rights lawyers for the
high court to direct CBI to take over the case in 2007.
It was in the first week of August this year that the
CBI sent an Interpol request to track down the
Queensland-based family that had adopted Jabeen. "I want
to see my aulad (child)," says Jabeen's mother, Fatima .
"I want to kiss her, feel her grown-up face. She will
return to us, won't she?" she asks doubtfully. Today,
the Saalia household is filled with the laughter of
three kids. A parrot squawks in the background. But
Fatima and her husband continue to feel lonely.
It's a longing shared by Nagarani and her husband, E
Kathirvel too, who lost their 1 Â½ year old Satish Kumar
, the youngest of three sons, in October 1999. Picked up
from the pavement where the entire family was asleep,
Satish has now been traced to Netherlands where the
Bisessars have christened him Anbu Rohit Bisessar. But
the Kathirvels, unlike the other two families, realise
that their relationship with their son will never be the
"I am not denying that he might be brought up in a
completely different and possibly, a more luxurious
environment. But that doesn't mean that I can't be
allowed to meet him. I want to see my son again, even if
not to reunite," says Nagarani.
MSS facilitates stolen kids for inter-country adoptions
to unsuspecting foster parents
MSS has its licence revoked after a staff is arrested
for kidnapping four babies from a local hospital. Is
later given back its licence
CARA, responsible for clearing children for intercountry
adoption, finds that MSS had done little to place kids
with Indian parents. Various other discrepancies and
negligence vis a vis the children's health also
Police overhear accusations of child abduction during a
brawl between two men at a local bar
Four people- Sheikh Dawood, Manoharan, Sabeera and
Nawjeen who were arrested spill the beans on the
adoption racket. MSS owners PV Ravindranath and Vatsala
Police track down the address of three children to
Australia, Netherlands and the USA
Habeas corpus writ filed. High court directs CBI to take
July '07- Court issues letter rogatory to facilitate CBI
interrogation of foster parents
a) Should largely conform to Central Adoption Resource
Agency (CARA) established in 1990, UN Declaration of the
rights of the child of 1989, Hague Convention of 1993
(All three lay down that a child without a family of its
own should be placed with a family within its own
socio-cultural milieu. Inter-country adoption is
therefore to be seen as a secondary option) b)
Authorised inter-country adoption homes are called
Recognised Indian Placement Agencies (RIPAs) c) In case
of malpractice by a adoption home, state governments
need to inform CARA. Kids should be moved out of the