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03 Jun 2023, 23:46 HRS IST
  • PTI
  • Bihar orphanage suspects foul play behind Sherin's death

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19:53 HRS IST

Patna, Oct 27 (PTI) The orphanage in Nalanda district of Bihar, from where Sherin Mathews was adopted in June last year, today suspected foul play behind the death of the three-year-old Indian girl recently.

Babita Kumari, the secretary of the Mother Teresa Orphanage and Children's Home, claimed that there were discrepancies in the reported statements of Wesley Mathews, Sherin's adoptive father, and said she was suspicious that the child might actually have been killed.

"I want to speak to the foster parents of Saraswati, who was later re-christened as Sherin, as I suspect that the child may have become dispensable to the couple as they had a child of their own," she said.

Sherin had gone missing on October 7 and the police in the Texan city of Richardson confirmed her death earlier this week after over-a-fortnight of searches.

Sherin's adoptive father Wesley Mathews (37) was re- arrested and charged with causing a first-degree felony injury to a child due to conflicting statements given by him to the police.

"We had taken the custody of the child in February, 2015 when she was barely seven-month-old. On June 23, 2016, when she was just a little under two years of age, the American couple came to us and applied for adoption. All formalities were completed in accordance with the law and in presence of the Superintendent of Police," Kumari told PTI over phone from Nalanda.

"As many as eight children adopted from our home are living in the US. Some have also gone to countries like Indonesia, South Africa and Spain. In addition, more than 100 kids from our centre have been adopted by families living across the country. Never have we heard about any of them meeting such a horrible end," she added.

"He (Wesley) has said that the girl choked when they tried to forcibly feed her milk. Choking while drinking milk is common among children but it is unlikely to cause death.

"Moreover, he has spoken of alleged disabilities the girl suffered from but has failed to produce even one document to show that the child, who was perfectly healthy when she was with us, had been treated for any of those defects," Kumari said.

Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, in a statement today, said he had spoken to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj about the matter and requested her "to review the rules relating to adoption of Indian children by couples belonging to other countries".

"It has not been difficult to keep a tab on the children who were taken to other countries after adoption. I have requested Swaraj to take the matter relating to the death of the girl to its logical conclusion and ensure that the strongest possible punishment was meted out to her foster father, who hailed from Kerala but was settled in the US," he added.

Kumari said the news of the child's death came as a double whammy for her as she was already rattled by the closure of her agency, pursuant to an order of the district child protection department.

"Our orphanage has been closed since September 15, following an order of the department dated September 7, wherein it has been alleged that irregularities have been found in our functioning. No documents or inquiry reports were appended to the closure order and hence, we plan to challenge the same before the court.

"We were registered as an agency specialising in providing care to orphan children way back in 2011. We had eight children in our custody when the closure order was slapped on us. Among them, a six-year-old girl has been sent to a balika grih (girls' home) in Begusarai, while the remaining have been sent to an orphanage in Nawada," she added.

Meanwhile, an inquiry ordered by the district administration into the adoption of the girl has found that the entire exercise was carried out in accordance with the rules.

"A three-member committee was set up to inquire as to whether the due procedure was followed during the adoption of the child. The inquiry committee has found nothing amiss," Thyagarajan, District Magistrate of Nalanda, told PTI.

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