Indian-Origin Couple Granted Bail after Held for Neglecting InfantTop Stories

September 14, 2018 06:59
Indian-Origin Couple Granted Bail after Held for Neglecting Infant

(Image source from: NDTV)

An Indian-origin couple in Florida was granted bail on Thursday after being arrested for allegedly neglecting and ill-treating their six-month-old daughter.

They were arrested last Friday, weeks after they took her to an infirmary at Broward County in Florida with a swollen left arm. However, Child Protective Services will proceed to have custody of their six-month-old babies, with no parental entree.

Authorities booked them for child neglect and abuse after the couple from Tamil Nadu allegedly questioned why the girl had to go through high-priced tests at the medical establishment and attempted to take the child from the hospital against doctors' advice.

The couple, Prakash Settu and Mala Paneerselvam, was earlier sent to a prison in Fort Lauderdale with the bail amount set at $200,000.

A person acquainted with the issue told NDTV on Thursday that "the bail amount was ultimately reduced to $30,000, and the couple released just a few hours ago".

The baby, Himisha, and her twin brother were taken away from them by Child Protective Services a few weeks ago.

Friends of the family, who deny the allegations leveled against the couple, have organized an online fundraiser to help them wage a legal battle against the United States authorities.

Prakash-Settu-Mala-Paneerselvam-selfie                       Image source: Oneindia

"Separating newborn twins from biological parents is a sin. Let them hand over them to me, as a grandmother. I'd take care of them," Paneerselvam's mother, Malika, told NDTV.

A close friend of the couple claimed that they had inquired about the necessity for expensive medical tests at each stage of the treatment only because they could not afford them. "Their insurance did not cover all of them. This was misconstrued as neglect," the friend said.

The Ministry of External Affairs is likewise in touch with the U.S. authorities in this regard.

However, a report from Florida Health Children's Medical Services, Broward County, in NDTV's ownership alleges that Settu and his wife refused to let hospital staffers conduct a "skeletal survey" and even tried to take their daughter away. The hospital viewed this as a case of possible child neglect and summoned Child Protective Services agents to the scene.

The U.S. consulate, when contacted, stated that they will not be able to comment on "individual cases of investigation".

The U.S. has very stringent laws on child protection, and several cases of parents being booked for child neglect and abuse have cropped up over the years.

By Sowmya Sangam

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