EghtesadOnline: The life of Iranian-British charity worker Narges Kalbasi Ashtari who runs an orphanage home for mainly the visually-impaired and abandoned kids in India has turned into a nightmare, she says, as an Indian district court has brought alleged charges of involuntary manslaughter against her.
Now 28, Narges soon became an orphan herself as she lost both Iranian parents to incurable diseases at the age of 10 and 15. The family, originally from Isfahan, lived in the United Kingdom.
Most probably, her experience as an orphan contributed greatly to the path she took later in 2011 when she launched her orphanage home in Rayagada in the Indian eastern state of Odisha, IRNA reported.
Once described as the mother of Indian orphans, she was suddenly caught up in a horrific situation and now she is asking the Indian Government for “justice” and a “fair trial”.
Talking to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) on the phone recently, Kalbasi said she was denied a fair trial and her case was reviewed in the local court of Rayagada in Odisha “based on no evidence.'
On December 5, she was sentenced to one year in prison and 300,000 rupees ($4,300) in fines on alleged charges of involuntary manslaughter, a crime, she says, she never committed.
Her story started in 2014 when a 5-year-old boy disappeared during a day-long picnic which was organized by Kalbasi. The boy was not part of Kalbasi children's home but his parents worked for the foundation.
“His mother was the cook of my foundation and his father was the manager of my home. He was not a part of my children and his parents had brought him by their own will,” Kalbasi told IRNA.
The boy, reportedly, fell into the river and was swept away. Shockingly, his body has not been recovered yet.
“I am not responsible for a child that is not part of my foundation,” Kalbasi said adding that after the incident, the boy’s parents came to her asking for hefty amounts of money before the police started its investigation into the case.
“They said you should pay us a lot of money otherwise, we would tell a different story to the police,” she said recalling the day when the boy’s parents came to extort her.
During the investigation, the couple changed their story three times, Kalbasi said.
“First they said their child had disappeared, then they said I have murdered him and the third time, they said that this is manslaughter as I brought the children to an unsafe place for picnic,” Kalbasi added.
Stressing that she was “denied a fair trial and fair investigation” during her hearing sessions, she called on Indian government to give her “the chance to have a fair trial and remove my case from the whole district and bring it to another place or another court, the supreme court for instance.”
Kalbasi said the entire court sessions were held “with complete lack of evidence.”
Moreover, she referred to the efforts made by Iran’s Consulate General in Hayderabad and appreciated the Iranian Government, the country’s Consul General Hassan Nourian in particular, for closely following up her case.
Nourian was assigned by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during his recent visit to India, to follow up Kalbasi's case.
Kalbasi who is now free on bail and waiting for the next round of her trial, said she expects India’s Ministry of External Affairs to give her the chance to have a fair trial.