ISNA interview with Narges Kalbasi and her today life

نرگس کلباسی

Tehran (ISNA) - Iranian-British charity worker Narges Kalbasi insisted that “bribe” was the main factor of her unfortunate plight.

She said that the UK government didn’t consider her case probably because she, as a British citizen, is not important for them.

Eight years ago, Narges moved to India to take care of the most underprivileged children of the country. She is the founder of Prishan Foundation. In 2011 she built a children’s home for orphan and blind children followed by another children’s home in the same village of Rayagada in the state of Odisha.

Narges’s life took a turn for the worst when she found herself charged with involuntary manslaughter. In 2014, Narges arranged a one-day field trip for children in which a couple, who both worked for the children's home, decided to bring along their healthy 5-year-old son for the excursion as well. Their son was not part of the Foundations homes.

In an unfortunate accident which neither Narges nor anyone else witnessed, the couple’s boy alleged that their son fell into the river and was swept away by the current. Surprisingly, to this day the body of the boy has not been found, adding more mystery to this incident.

For two years, Narges’s life has turned into a nightmare. She has been in and out of court rooms for a crime she claims she never committed.

Narges has been fighting this issue for more than two and a half years now. Although it is said that the legal proceedings in India’s courts are time-consuming but this case seems to be unfairly handled. For example, three months ago a lower court convicted Kalbasi of “involuntary manslaughter”, she appealed to the Sessions court but the appeal hearing has been postponed with various excuses despite the repeated efforts of the Iranian consulate in Hyderabad and her lawyers.

Now because of health and safety concerns, she lives in inside the Iranian council in Hydarabad.

Although the Iranian-British woman is facing numerous challenges in India, her fellow Iranian people have vowed to stick by her in any which way until justice is served and she is freed from all troubles.

Here is the full text of her interview with ISNA in which she describes her life today and describes her plans for the future once this nightmare is over:

Many people from ordinary people to politicians and artists announced their support regarding your case; will you keep contact with people after finishing the case?

There were so many people who showed their support to me during the last few months and I am so grateful to all of them. There are far too many to name, but I hope to be able to see all of these people in person one day to thank them personally. A lot of these people live very busy and hectic lives so I understand they cannot always show their support to me. But what they have done so far has meant a lot. I will always remember what they have done for me.

What’s the plan after freedom? Do you have any plans to travel to Iran? If yes, which cities? How much do you know about Iran?

The first place I would like to go to after my freedom will be Iran. Last time I was in Iran was when I was sixteen. I lived there for a few years with my father. We mostly stayed in Esfahan, my birth city. I haven’t really visited a lot of other places. I hope during my next visit I can visit all the beautiful places in Iran with a clear head and heart. I look forward to that day.

Do you know any other people in India who have similar experiences like yours?

I know of a few people who have had the same problems as me within the NGO sector in India. But nothing as severe as in my case. My case is different because I lived and worked in a very remote and backward area where a lot of human rights and a lot of law doesn’t apply.

Imagine everything is finished in a good way; where and how you would like to continue your charity activities?

Once this is all finished I would like to take at least a few weeks to reenergize myself and really heal from what has happened to me during the past few years. If I do not take care of myself first I will never be able to take care of others. That is why sometimes for myself would be the first step. After that, I would definitely want to continue to work with children and I would love to do that in Iran.

Where do you live now and how do you spend your time?

I live in the Iranian Consulate in Hyderabad because of all the problems that are happening in Rayagada. This is mainly because of health and safety concerns. I spend my time teaching English to the children of the diplomats and workers of the Consulate. I enjoy doing that a lot because it keeps me busy and distracted and gives me less time to think about my problems in Rayagada.

Good and bad events which happen in our lives, teach us lessons; what did you learn from Rayagada events?

I learned that there are many terrible people in our world and some of those people disguise themselves as our friends and people who we can trust. Many of the problems I face were problems created by people whom I trusted. There is a lot of envy and hatred around us and I have learned to be more careful with those who I allow into my life from now on. Many of my problems could have never reached to where it is today if I had paid bribes. However, I chose not to, because I never wanted to be part of the corruption that is destroying our world. I do not regret it and if I had to do it again I would do it the same way. 

You have dual nationalities; what do you think of different approaches of Iran and England to your case?

You cannot compare these two countries with each other at all. Iran has been one end of the extreme and UK has been on the other end. Iran has supported me from the very first day they found out about my problems. Not just in terms of consular support, but also in terms of humanitarian and compassionate support. I feel what they have done for me has been far greater than what they were obligated to do. They have changed my view of my birth country and they have made me realize how proud I am of Iran. England, on the other hand, has said that they cannot interfere in the judiciary system of India and have made me feel non-British.

Do you believe that UK foreign ministry did not support you?

Absolutely. I don’t think that I was important enough or beneficial enough for them to support me.

Tell me about your meeting with Mr. Zarif.

Dr. Zarif was very kind to me. Even though he had such a busy schedule he made time for me and reassured me that he, and the people of Iran, will support me till the end. In a very difficult time, he gave me hope and I really felt that he was sincerely proud of me. I have a huge amount of respect for him and I am grateful for all of his support.

Where your interest to people and children come from? Have you had an affluent childhood?

My interest in children came from my own childhood. I understand a lot of the problems that children face when not having parents or a good stable family network. My brothers and I raised ourselves but if we had that family support, I know that our lives would have been much more joyful. This is why I try to fill in that emptiness within the lives of children around the world who do not have a family. I do this because I feel like it is something I was meant to do and I believe whatever happened to me in my childhood, happened for a reason. All I want to do is make a positive impact in this short life that I have.

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