Callie Thornton
From The Sunday Times March 7, 2010


Shahnaz Malik was accused of cuddling Amaani for too long

SOCIAL WORKERS have placed the five-year-old daughter of a professional couple on the child protection register for “emotional abuse” after the mother told the girl she was delivered by caesarean.

Other allegations against the mother include cuddling her daughter for too long when dropping her off at nursery.

The intervention by Birmingham social services prompted the mother, Shahnaz Malik, to go into hiding with her daughter, Amaani, for two months, fearing the girl would be taken away.

An alert was put out to all British ports, and police conducted raids on a string of properties in the West Midlands. Two weeks ago police battered down the door of the family’s home in an apartment block in an attempt to find Amaani. She had been moved elsewhere by her mother, but her father, Vijay Bansal, 42, an IT consultant, was later arrested and held in a cell overnight for “obstructing” the search.

Officers also seized Malik’s car, took toothbrushes from the bathroom to analyse for DNA and raided the homes of relatives in the middle of the night, looking for the mother and girl.

“This whole case is madness as there is no reason for the state to be involved in this little girl’s life in this way,” said John Hemming, a Birmingham MP who campaigns against abuses by the family courts.

“The problem is that the system is using massive aggression to deal with the mother’s refusal to respond to a set of frankly silly concerns.”

The council’s actions follow criticism of it by a judge for showing gross lack of judgment in failing to stop seven-year-old Khyra Ishaq starving to death. Care workers did not think she warranted being placed on the at-risk register.

The problems started after Amaani began to attend a private nursery last September.Within weeks, friction developed between Malik and staff, who said the girl bit her nails and had been overheard swearing at a teacher.

Malik, who has a masters degree in social policy, said last week: “We never swear at home, so she must have picked up the words at nursery. She told me she did swear at the nursery teacher because she was grabbed very hard by her.”

When Malik withdrew Amaani from the nursery, she was told by a health visitor that their case was being referred to social services.

“I went to a solicitor, who said the grabbing of Amaani’s arm was an assault, so I decided to make a complaint to the police,” Malik said.

However, she felt the police were uninterested in her complaint and wanted to speak to Amaani alone — which Malik refused to allow.

A few days later her husband was called in by officers. “The police asked me if my wife has mental health problems. I said, ‘Absolutely not’,” Bansal said.

“They said, ‘There are allegations coming from the nursery’. They said, ‘Someone overheard your wife saying to your daughter she had her stomach cut open to deliver Amaani’.”

Bansal said the police also told him that his wife cuddled Amaani for 10-15 minutes when dropping her off at the nursery. “I said, ‘No mother wants to leave her child screaming’.     Read more of the story here
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