Houston: India has decided to revoke the OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) cards of the Indian-American foster parents of Sherin Mathews, the three-year-old girl found dead in a culvert in Dallas last year.
The case attracted international attention and forced the government to tighten the adoption process.
The OCI cards of some of their relatives and friends will also be revoked.
The toddler’s decomposed body was found in a culvert close to her home on October 22 last year, two weeks after her foster parents reported her missing.
An autopsy concluded that Sherin died of homicidal violence, but the manner of death could not be determined due to the body’s decomposition.
Wesley Mathews, her adoptive father, originally told police that he left Sherin outside the home at 3am, to punish her for not drinking milk. Then, he changed his statement and said she choked on her milk when he tried to feed her. He also admitted the family had gone out to dinner that night and left Sherin alone at home.
The couple from Kerala had adopted Sherin from an orphanage in Bihar in 2016.
While Wesley was indicted on charges of capital murder and tampering with evidence, his wife Sini was indicted on a charge of abandoning a child.
Following the incident, India’s nodal body for adoption, the Child Adoption Resource Authority (Cara), has made the mental well-being of overseas applicants seeking to adopt, an important criterion for determining their eligibility.
‘In public interest’
Anupam Ray, Counsel General of India in Houston, said India is cancelling the OCI cards of Wesley and Sini, who are in jail, and some of the couple’s relatives and close associates’ cards as well, as public opinion rages in India on the issue.
Manoj N Abraham and Nissy T Abraham, friends of the Mathews family, were among the first to receive a notice of cancellation of their OCI, which they have challenged in Delhi High Court.
Wesley’s parents are also on the list.
Ray told news agency: “India has not forgotten this little child and in public interest, the consulate will recommend their names be put on the ‘blacklist’ maintained by the government of India, at the earliest.”
“It has come to the knowledge of the Indian Consulate in Houston, through diplomatic and privileged sources, that Manoj Abraham and Nissy T Abraham have been in close contact with the adoptive parents of Sherin Mathews before, during and after the murder,” Ray said.
“We would have found out more about the circumstances of this heartless murder, if Abraham had cooperated in providing information. The case is developing in Delhi, but our position on providing the visa is unchanged,” Ray said.
Meanwhile, the attorney representing Sherin’s mother has withdrawn as her counsel over non-payment. Attorney Mitchell Nolte filed a motion in Dallas County and the motion was accepted.
Nolte has represented Sini, currently being held in the Dallas county jail on a $250,000 bond, after she was arrested. According to court documents, Mathews “failed to comply with the terms of the employment agreement and has been unable to make further financial arrangements.”