Kidnapped Ali still in India five years on

Source: Daily Advertiser

FIVE years have passed and not a day has gone by that former Wagga woman Carla Allarakhia hasn’t thought of her son, Ali.

The last time she saw him he was three and had big brown eyes, a cheeky grin and never went anywhere without his teddy.

He recently celebrated his eighth birthday and she wonders how grown up he looks now. Carla doesn’t have a single updated photo of Ali since he was taken from her.

Her son was kidnapped on September 23, 2008 by her ex-husband, Shabaz, who is an Indian national.

Ali was with his maternal grandma, Glenda Gannon, in Mumbai when Shabaz took him from their motel.

He had applied through an Australian court to take his son on a holiday for two weeks to visit relatives – but he secretly had other plans. Ali has never returned to Australia.

Since the day her son was taken Carla’s life has been filled with the hell of a four-year court battle that only ended last year.

The Indian court ruled that Shabaz was to have full custody of Ali but Carla could call her son whenever she wanted. They have also allowed her four visits a year, something she is yet to do due to financial constraints.

Former member for Riverina Kay Hull has been noted for spending thousands of hours trying to find a way to bring Ali home, but was frustrated by the fact India is not party to the Hague Convention on the return of kidnapped children.

“We rang him for his birthday on Sunday; that was a bit hard,” Glenda said. “He still calls Carla mum and still calls us nan and pop. I worry that his memory of us is fading.

“We haven’t seen him because of the court case. Now it’s over Shabaz has got full-time custody. She’s allowed to see him four times a year, but not take him anywhere. Someone would have to go with her (to India).”

Although the situation is a nightmare and Carla has gone through a very sad period, the family takes comfort in the fact Ali seems happy and healthy.

He is attending private school, shares stories with them about all his friends and loves playing cricket. Fluent in English, he seems to be excelling academically, too.

“I know he is looked after over there,” Glenda said, adding they wanted to sort things out with Shabaz so Ali could come visit them in Wagga.

“It’s more the country, every time you see something on the news you worry.”

One horrible experience for the family was the 2008 Mumbai attacks where 12 co-ordinated shooting and bombing incidents claimed the lives of 166 innocent people.

This was only a couple of months after the kidnapping and for a period they didn’t know whether Ali, an Australian citizen, was caught up in the terrorist violence.

Carla met Shabaz in 2004 when he was living in Wagga and studying information technology at Charles Sturt University. They married in 2005.

Now aged 29, Carla has a new partner and four other children to look after. Yet the despair of Ali growing up without seeing her brothers and sister never leaves her.

Missed: One of the last photos taken of Ali Allarakhia in Australia.

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