Silence on case of stolen Indian children

Rory Callinan From: The Australian November 06, 2009 12:48AM
INDIAN authorities have failed to launch any investigation into how two stolen children were adopted in Australia despite being given documentary evidence last year proving the siblings were trafficked.
Australian couple Julia and Barry Rollings adopted two toddlers, aged 1 and 3, in India in 1998 after being assured they had been relinquished by parents who lived on the streets of Chennai and were allegedly too sick to care for them.

However, in 2006, the couple discovered the children had been taken by their father while they slept on the pavement with their mother in the slums of Chennai.

The pair, a brother and sister, were then sold for $50 and ended up in an orphanage that allowed them to be adopted by the Rollings family in Canberra.

Two years ago, the Rollings took the children, Sabila and Akil, back to India to visit their biological mother who agreed they should remain in Australia.

The Australian, 26 Aug 2008
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Late last year the Rollings went back to India to gather evidence of how the children were sold and found official documents proving the signatures of the parents had been forged. They took statements from the biological mother Sonama and other witnesses.

The Rollings then petitioned the High Court of Madras to pass the evidence to India’s Central Bureau of Investigation.

They also wrote three letters requesting an investigation by the Indian Central Adoption Resources Agency, which polices the Hague Convention on the protection of children and co-operation with respect to intercountry adoption.

But yesterday Mrs Rollings said no investigation had been launched and no one had contacted them with any information. “It’s very frustrating nothing has happened. We have actually brought this information to the authorities,” Mrs Rollings said. “We thought the authorities would be as appalled as we were, and would at least contact us to say they would investigate but instead our letters are not even acknowledged.”

Mrs Rollings said she had not received any reply from CARA. She heard through other sources that CARA had referred the case to the CBI but no investigation could progress unless a referral came from the courts. Yesterday India’s deputy high commissioner to Australia V.K. Sharma blamed a backlog of cases in the courts in Chennai for the delay.

He said Mrs Rollings should send the high commission the details for investigation. “It is the first we have heard of it,” he said.

Among evidence uncovered by the Rollings was how the children’s father returned briefly to see the mother after he sold the children. “He turned up and he had the equivalent of $50 and told the neighbours and relatives he had sold the children. But (they) were so angry they drove him away and he has not been able to be found,” Mrs Rollings said. Sonama searched for the children but eventually gave up, fearing they had been killed.

At one point she was told they may have ended up blinded and forced to beg for money with a gang of professional beggars.

The children, however, turned up at the Madras Social Services Guild orphanage at Nedungundram Vandalur, south of Chennai, from where they were adopted out to the Rollings.

The orphanage has denied any impropriety. The Rollings obtained the relinquishment certificate purportedly signed by Sonama from the local court. The signatures appeared forged and Sonama’s age was wrong.

The CBI is already investigating cases involving another orphanage, Malaysian Social Services, near Chennai, which purchased children from a child- stealing gang and then adopted them out across the world including to Australia.