Aid worker’s ‘painful wait’ for justice in India

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Narges Ashtari

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Narges Kalbasi Ashtari started working in in India in 2011

British-Iranian charity worker Narges Kalbasi Ashtari has been barred from leaving India since 2014 amid a court battle over the death of a young boy. Her case has prompted concern for aid workers, as BBC Monitoring’s Nusha Soluch explains.

Media in Iran describe Ms Ashtari as a “benevolent lady” who has dedicated her life to underprivileged children. Several social media pages have been set up in her support in Iran, and an open letter to the foreign minister for her “freedom” has been signed by prominent actors, celebrities and lawyers.

Her supporters believe that she was simply working for poor children in India, and ended up becoming “a victim” of local politics.

But in Rayagada district in the eastern Indian state of Orissa, some know her as the foreign charity worker who may have caused the death of a child.

Ms Ashtari, 28, was sentenced to a year in jail for causing the death of the boy by negligence during a picnic she had organised. She has appealed against the jail term and is currently out on bail. The next hearing is due to take place at the end of this month.

The aid worker denies causing the death, saying she has been caught up in tribal politics and corruption.

“I have gone through the most horrific forms of abuse by a group of people with immense power, influence and protection,” she wrote in her petition on change.org, which has been signed by hundreds of thousands of people.

The aid worker said working in India was her dream, but she never imagined that one day she would have to face a legal case in the country.

The death

The case revolves around Asim Jilakara, a five-year-old boy – not a girl as some earlier media reports said – who went missing in 2014 during a…

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