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HomePoliticsIndiaKerala: Communist 'rejection' of caste exposed

Kerala: Communist ‘rejection’ of caste exposed

A Dalit's wife alleged her father, an upper-caste leader of CITU, snatched her child and handed the baby to a state-run orphanage in Kerala

Former communist student leader Anupama S Chandran and her husband Ajith Kumar are the biological parents of a one-year-old baby, a genetic test confirmed on 23 November. This controversial adoption has stoked controversy in Kerala, with journalist Sunanda Vashisht remarking, “In the ‘casteless’ leftist Utopia of Kerala, leftist leader sends his own biological grandson into adoption because he doesn’t approve of his daughter’s marriage to a Dalit man. Of course this will not not be filed under ‘intolerant and regressive India!”

In October, the Kerala women’s commission had ordered an inquiry into the missing child case of Chandran, daughter of CPI(M) leader Jayachandran, six months after she filed a complaint against her parents for allegedly snatching away her newborn child.

Chandran and Kumar say that her father, a leader of the state’s ruling CPM, forcibly took away their child and put him up for adoption because he did not approve of the intercaste couple. Last month, a family court stayed the adoption process and ordered the DNA test.

“This is the happiest day in my life. It is the victory of a mother,” Chandran told reporters with tears in her eyes. The couple was holding a sit-in protest outside a children’s home where the baby was kept by the authorities a week ago.

Minutes after the DNA (genetic identification test) result from the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology in Thiruvananthapuram was issued, Child Welfare Committee (CWC) authorities allowed the mother and father to see the baby. There were joyous scenes outside the venue with the parents and activists distributing sweets.

“I thank the people who stood with me. I hope I will get custody of my baby soon,” said Chandran after meeting her child. She said she would continue her struggle till officials who allegedly colluded with her parents to give away the baby in a hurry were punished and reiterated her charge that “it was child trafficking.”

An official of the CWC said it would inform the family court about the test and request it to take an early decision. The baby was brought from Andhra Pradesh on 21 November and DNA samples of all three (mother, father and baby) was taken on 22 November.

“It is a slap on the face of the government. It should take immediate action against officials who supported the adoption flouting all rules,” said KK Rema MLA, Revolutionary Socialist Party leader, who supported the young mother.

“It is a great victory for the mother. Sad, not even a single woman leader from the ruling CPM met her. How can they take up women issues in the future?” asked Indian National Congress (INC) leader Bindu Krishna.

CPM leaders did not comment on the development.

Kerala Health Minister Veena George said the government would move the court to expedite the transfer of the baby and denied any delay on the part of the government. “We are with Anupama and we will be happy to see the child’s union with his parents,” she said.

In the second week of October, Chandran told reporters that her new-born baby was forcibly taken by her parents and given up for adoption, ignoring her protests. With her family being members of the ruling CPM, Chandran said that she took up the matter with senior leaders but was ignored.

On 20 October, the police filed a complaint against six people, including her parents. In her complaint, she alleged that her father, S Jayachandran, a senior leader of the CPM trade union wing CITU, took away her newborn child on the third day of delivery and handed it over to the Kerala State Council for Child Welfare (SCCW)-run orphanage in the state capital last year. The child was later given up for adoption in a hurry, flouting rules, she claimed in her complaint.

But her father maintained that the baby was born out of wedlock and hence shifted to a government-run children’s home with the consent of Chandran. He said she signed on stamp paper but Chandran later said she signed under duress. She said her parents opposed her relations with her husband Ajith since he belonged to a Dalit family.

The issue kicked up a row cornering the ruling Left Democratic Front and the state government. Many writers and left intellectuals appealed to chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan to intervene, but the chief minister said that it was a “family affair”.

However, state fisheries minister Saji Cherian criticised Chandran and backed her parents. “Her parents have done only what everyone will do in the society,” he said.

Later, Chandran filed a defamation compliant against the minister and said she approached many senior leaders but failed to get justice. Party insiders admitted that the issue was denting the image of the ruling CPM, and their poll plank of women’s rights.

The Central Adoption Resource Authority instructed the SCCW to give due weightage to the foster parents from Andhra Pradesh who were forced to hand over the baby to officials from Kerala on Sunday. A senior official of the CWC who did not want to be identified said top priority will be given to them during the next round of adoption.

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