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‘My son isn’t safe in a war zone’: Man whose Ukrainian wife accused him of kidnapping their child

The Indian Express logo The Indian Express 19-11-2022 Malavika Prasad
© Provided by The Indian Express

In his reply before the Delhi High Court, a man accused of kidnapping his three-year-old son by his former wife, a Ukrainian, has claimed that his son is an Indian citizen and an "Indian citizen cannot be sent to a war zone area".

The man has stated in his reply to his ex-wife’s petition that his minor son has an Indian passport issued on July 9, 2020. He states that he brought his son "through proper channels after getting necessary approvals from the officials of both countries" as Ukraine is in a war zone since February 22 and his son was "not safe in a country which is in the state of war".

The man has denied that his three-year old son was "ever a citizen of Ukraine" or was issued a passport by the Ukrainian government. "The document annexed as Annexure P3 is the document by which the Petitioner (mother) has attached the name of the son to her passport without giving the correct information to the officials of Ukraine Government," the reply has stated.

The father has claimed that he is the "natural guardian of the minor child" whom he had brought to India through proper channels and after completing all formalities and rules. Further, the minor child is an Indian citizen and an Indian citizen cannot be sent to a War Zone Area which is not safe even for the Petitioner, he said. Claiming that the woman's plea is based on a concocted story, he has sought the dismissal of the petition.

The father has vehemently denied the woman's assertions that he is addicted to alcohol or that he had physically and orally abused her. With respect to the two complaints lodged by the woman against him with the Ukrainian police, he states the police did not take any action against him as the "officials found both the complaints baseless".

"In his reply by the police of Ukraine, it was clearly mentioned that the head of the pre-trial investigation body, based on the results of the preliminary review, found that there were no signs of a criminal offense in this case, therefore there are no grounds for entering this event in the Unified Register of Pre-Trial Investigation. The remarks made by the police of Ukraine make it clear that the Petitioner was habitual of making false complaints against the answering respondent and she was harassing him as he was not a citizen of Ukraine," the reply filed through advocate Harsh Gupta has stated.

The man has further claimed that he "bore all the expenses for the treatment" of the woman's mother after she was diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas and had spent "approx 18-20 thousand dollars" on her. He further alleges that his son was suffering from "malnutrition, calcium deficiency and even suffered a fungal infection which only got recovered after returning to India". "It is submitted that at present Petitioner is living with her daughter and boyfriend of her daughter in a two room apartment, out of which, one room is acquired by the daughter and her boyfriend, hence, the petitioner has no sufficient space for the upbringing and child's life," he has stated.

He has also claimed that he had to make a police complaint to meet his own son and the decision of the Vinnytsia City Council passed on July 15, 2021 requiring the contact of the father with the child after the couple's divorce was passed for the "wellbeing of the child as the involvement of the father is necessary to participate in the upbringing of the minor child".

The man has further claimed that he was never informed by his ex-wife about his son's admission in a kindergarten school in Vinnytsia. "The answering respondent asked many times to the Petitioner to get admission of the child in the preschool and paid the money twice for the said purpose to the Petitioner. The first time, when he gave the money to get admission of child and after some days asked about the admission, the Petitioner scolded the (man) and said that there was nothing in the house to eat so she spent the same for that and now she was in need of more money to get admission for the child,” he has claimed.

“He again gave her the money, but the Petitioner never informed him whether she had admitted the child in any preschool” The man later learnt that the child was studying in the same school where the woman was working as a helper.

The man also alleged that "all the vaccination of the child was done solely by (himself) only and the Petitioner never accompanied (him) for the same". He further submitted that his son is currently studying in a preschool in Ghaziabad.

As to the effect of the war between Russia-Ukraine on Vinnytsia city, the father has claimed that "on 16.03.2022, a missile struck at a distance of 500 metres from the house of the answering respondent". He claims that he asked the woman to leave the country with the children as the city was not safe, but the woman pushed him out of her house. "The (man) begged on his knees outside the house of the Petitioner in the temperature of -10...," he has stated, claiming that he told the woman that he would accompany her to the country of her desire, but she "blatantly refused".

He further submitted that according to the "rules of border crossing for children under 16 years during the war, reminded by the Centre for Combating Disinformation at the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine", there was no need for the minor child to be accompanied by both parents.

As per the rules, to leave the country accompanied by one of the parents, grandparents, adult brother, sister, stepmother, stepfather, there must be "documents confirming the family ties of the accompanying person with the child (birth certificate, marriage certificate), etc". He submitted that he brought his child from a war zone after completing all formalities. "The (man) also requested the Petitioner to leave the war area as it was not safe but adamantly, the Petitioner refused," he claimed.

He has further alleged that while staying with his mother, the minor child was under "trauma and... was not able to respond properly, but after reaching India, a great improvement came in the child... mentally and physically ". The father claims that the child has recovered from his "malnutrition " and that he carries out regular medical check-ups of his son which was never done by the mother.

Earlier this month, the high court had directed the Delhi Police to locate the father and the minor child, after the man’s former wife moved the court claiming that he took her son out for a walk on March 27 and did not return. The mother, a school teacher, also submitted before the court that there are police cases against the man in Ukraine, and although a Ukrainian court had already ruled the child's custody in her favour after their divorce in 2021, the father took her son away without her consent. She said although the father was granted visitation rights by authorities, the court in Ukraine had decided that the "kid will stay with the mother as he is just three years old and is born in Ukraine".

The woman's plea stated that the boy's father took advantage of the war situation in Ukraine, crossed the Ukraine-Moldova border into Moldova, after which they (father and child) immediately went to Romania and subsequently purchased flight tickets to India. "That the Respondent No.5 has illegally and wilfully made false statement before the Indian authorities to illegally take the child out of Ukraine," the plea stated. The woman has alleged that the father at various check-posts and borders of Moldova and Romania, including airports of Romania, Doha and New Delhi, had shown "fabricated Indian passport of her son" to enable him to enter India.

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