Ammi or Aai? Court to decide

Sep 30, 2011, 07:59 IST | Shiva Devnath

A custody battle is all set to unfold between a four-year-old girl's caretaker, and her widowed biological mother, with the latter claiming that she could not devote time to her daughter as she was forced to earn a living 

Truth can sometimes be stranger than fiction. A four-year-old girl from Deonar now has the rare luxury of choosing between two mothers - one who gave birth to her, and another who claims credit for bringing her up ever since.

Whose child is it anyway: The four- year-old prefers to be in the arms
of Kundan Dhale, her Maharashtrian caretaker over that of her biological
mother Kamrunissa Sheikh. The feud between the women has been
forwarded to the court for arbitration

Ironically, the little girl shows a clear preference for her Maharashtrian aai, and shies away from her widowed ammi, who claims that she could not devote enough time to her biological daughter, as she was busy making a living after her husband passed away.

Both claimants for the coveted designation -- Kamrunissa Sheikh and Kundan Dhale -- have been running from pillar to post to prove that they have sole and inviolable right to gain custody of her. Sheikh, the biological mother is armed with her daughter's birth certificate, which clearly mentions that she is the girl's mother.

Dhale, however, has a more potent weapon at her disposal -- the support and recognition of the child.
When cops intervened recently, the little girl expressed a clear preference for Dhale.

"We have handed over the girl to the Dhale family, and she will stay with them while the legal proceedings ensue," said ACP Keshav Shinde.

The feud became public when Sheikh approached the Deonar police, alleging that Dhale had abducted her daughter. She claimed that Dhale had whisked the girl away to her residence after Sheikh dropped her off at school.

In her complaint, Sheikh recounted how she had to step out of the house to earn a living, after her husband's demise in 2007, when her daughter was just four months old. That is when Sheikh roped in the services of Dhale, appointed her to care for her daughter during the long hours of her absence. Soon, Dhale and her daughter developed a close bond, since they had to spend many hours in each other's company.

Sheikh now alleges that Dhale is taking advantage of their closeness, and has even entered her daughter's name in her ration card.

The custody battle has now been forwarded to the court.

"I am the girl's biological mother. After my husband passed away, I used to leave my daughter at Dhale's place, while I earned a living. I didn't even have time to feed her. I have all the certificates and documents to prove that she is my daughter," said Sheikh.

Dhale, however, is ready to challenge Sheikh's claim. "I know she is not my biological daughter, but Sheikh herself gave her daughter to me, as she could not even afford to feed her. She asked me to adopt the girl. A special bond has developed between us now. In the police station too, the girl said she wanted to live with me."

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