KZN baby coming home

2012-05-09 00:00

DURBAN grandparents Rama and Charmala Pillay now have reason to celebrate for the first time since the brutal murder of their daughter, Niranjini Handa (27), in India last year.

This was because Pietermaritzburg high court Judge Isaac Madondo yesterday finally gave the green light for their son, Lingeswara, a Durban dentist, to travel to India and bring home their 14-month-old grandson, whom they have not seen since last July.

The child’s father, Sumit Kumar Handa, is in jail in Delhi awaiting trial for murdering his wife, the toddler’s mother.

Handa is accused of strangling her with a laptop cord, stabbing her with a knife, cutting her body into pieces with a hacksaw, placing them in a suitcase and then burning them in a forest.

It is alleged by authorities in India that Handa murdered his wife on October 29 last year, two days before he called her family in South Africa and told police in India that she was missing.

According to a report in the Times of India, the saw and knife allegedly used to kill Niranjini, as well as some bones, were recovered 20 days later in a forest in Rai, 70 km from Delhi, where Handa allegedly burned the body.

Rama Pillay, head priest at the Sri Kamatchee Amman Temple in Newlands West, Durban, said their Pietermaritzburg attorney, Sundeep Singh, had worked tirelessly on their behalf, even travelling to India to do the legal legwork that ensured their grandson would return home.

The Pillays have some trepidation, however, as they are unlikely to be welcomed with open arms by the boy’s paternal grandparents, Ram Handa and his wife, with whom the little boy is living in Agra, India.

The couple had refused to allow the child to return to South Africa and would not give the Pillays access to him.

Singh told The Witness yesterday’s court order will be given effect to by the Indian authorities and police there would offer assistance if it was required.

The child’s uncle, Lingeswara Pillay, his grandmother, Charmala, and another relative hope to fly to India within the next two weeks and to return with him.

Lingeswara said in court papers that the child had lived with him and his maternal grandparents (Rama and Charmala) from his birth until the day he left South Africa on July 29, 2011 — ostensibly on a year-long vacation to India with his parents.

The little boy had formed a strong bond with his grandmother, who had cared for him when Niranjini (an attorney) was at work.

“We yearn to spend time and take care of him as our family member. He is still a South African citizen and had gone to India on a one-year visa, which will soon expire and eventually result in his deportation,” said Lingeswara Pillay.

He said the family were unable to obtain the child’s travel documents because Sumit Handa had refused to release them.

Lingeswara said there is a possibility that if found guilty, Handa would get a life sentence, or even the death penalty, which has not been abolished in India.

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