Two children of a Maldivian man, who had been living in an Indian orphanage for four years, have finally been brought back to the Maldives.
Their father, who hails from Ukulhas in Alif Alif Atoll, has three daughters aged 12, 10 and seven with his wife, who is an Indian national. According to the man's family, his wife had left him and fled to India with their children with no intention of coming back. She had placed the children in an orphanage in Trivandrum as she had had no way of caring for them.
The eldest daughter was brought back to the Maldives in March last year, upon her own request to return to her father. The younger two were escorted back last week by their mother.
"After their mother secretly fled with them, we had no news of them for days before we finally found out where the children were. After that, we'd visit India around once every two months to try and bring them back," narrated a source from the father's family.
"We also appealed at the relevant authorities to bring them back but didn't get any cooperation."
According to the source, Indian authorities had also not taken any action after the mother refused to hand over custody of her children to her husband.
She had finally brought the children back when her husband refused to divorce her unless she did so.
"She still hasn't handed over their custody to us," said the family member. "But we don't want to lose the children again..."
The source went on to assert that their father and his family have the means and capability of properly raising and caring for them. They added that the years living in the orphanage had also taken a bad toll on the children.
"We want to keep them at any cost, and we want the state to find a way to prevent them from being taken back."