At 78, the only wish of Manmohan Singh, is to meet his grand child.
"My son and his wife do not let him be at our home. My grandchild has been brainwashed, yet I don't know how," Singh told IBTimes India while participating in an awareness campaign at Bengaluru, organised under the aegis of Children's Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP) on Tuesday, November 14.
It's not just about grand parents, but a number of men and women who were forced to live separated from their children, were at Freedom Park in city to attend the campaign held as part of the Children's Day.
The CRISP pointed out that the rising cases of divorce has a longstanding impact on the lives of numerous minors in the country.
It demanded a legislation making shared parenting (joint custody) mandatory to safeguard the rights of the children and also wanted the formation of a separate ministry for children.
In an attempt to save those many children who do not get enough care from their parents, the NGO wanted the government to separate Union Ministry for Children and delinking it from the Women and Child Development Ministry, since children form 40% of Indian population.
The awareness campaign, led by CRISP President, Kumar Jahgirda, addressed the issue of shared parenting was attended by many well known faces, including Kannada film actress Bhavana and Kannada director and author Yogesh Master.
IBTimes India spoke to a few parents and grandparents who are fighting cases in the family courts of Bengaluru for the custody of their respective child/grandchild. Few grandparents, however, said that they were not willing to take legal recourse, but only wish to meet their grandchildren and be with them.
A mother of two, who has been issued a legal notice for divorce by her husband, said, "I was married in 2007, after which we had our first child in 2009. My son has autism and is a non-verbal dependent child. We had our problems as a couple, but in August 2016, my husband took my son and left the home."
She further added, "The family court in Bengaluru has given orders and said that I can meet my son on scheduled dates, but my husband does not get him to the decided places."
"My daughter-in-law has taken my grandson to Shimoga, at her father's place. My grandson keeps calling me and wishes to see us," laments Mehboob Sharif.
"After my son and daughter-in-law faced strains in their marriage, my son came to us and he lives with us now. My daughter-in-law had filed a false domestic violence case in 2016 against us under Section 498a of the IPC and demanded for mantainance," he said.
Actress Bhavana, who interacted with the children gathered at the park for the campaign, stressed the need for legal body which can look into and decide on what is best for children. "There has to be a body which decides what is best for the child. Moreover the father and the mother should think as individuals before opting for a divorce, because once they are a parent, they are responsible for a child's life," said Bhavana.
Here are the other suggestions by the NGO:
- Cases in family courts pertaining to children born to parents who are separated / divorced must be settled within 6 months.
- Legal body to ensure enforcement of court orders, which is often disobeyed by the custodian parent, leading to child's apathy. Stringent punishment for parents who disobey the orders.
- The parent/s responsible for alienating/abandoning the child, should be subjected to criminal offence and punished under certain law.
- The custodial parent should not brainwash the child against the non-custodial parent or his/her family members.