London: An Indian couple from Oxford are fighting to regain custody of their five-year-old son after he was taken away by social services over allegations of abuse. “They simply don’t understand the difference between the Indian and British culture. Their style of upbringing is totally different from our culture,” claims father Rajat Puri, who has been suspected by the authorities of “improper” behaviour towards his son Achintya.
“Our child is in a bad state. He has been crying and begging to be sent back home because he is scared of being shut up in a dark room every night,” adds mother Shruti Beri, who insists the case has been misinterpreted by the Oxfordshire County Council.
Achintya’s teachers at Bayards Hill Primary School in Oxford called in police and social services last month after he is believed to have described his father as doing “bad things”. They feared it may be a reference to sexual or other kind of abuse.
However, Beri is certain it was a reference to her husband’s social drinking and smoking which she had often described as a “bad habit” in an attempt to put her son off copying similar behaviour. Puri, who works in an investment firm, and his software programmer wife have been fighting for the return of their child since March 6 and have even written letters to British Prime Minister David Cameron and their local MP. Meanwhile, an emergency protection order passed by the local family court allows the parents to see their son three times a week for up to an hour.
The couple, originally from Punjab, moved to the UK in 2009 after living in South Africa for five years. Under child protection rules in the UK, a local council can start “care proceedings” if it is concerned about the welfare of a child. The council can take the child into care on a temporary basis for up to eight weeks at first, which can be renewed every 28 days. If the case goes to court, it can take up to a year, or even longer, for a decision on what should happen to the child.(PTI)