Muslim pilot adopts Hindu twins, wants to raise them as Hindus

In a world that is torn up by dispute under the name of politics and religion, there are instances that teach us that humanity is still alive and hatred is not the norm. A Muslim couple’s effort to raise two Hindu orphans, Ayush and Prarthana, has earned praise from the Delhi High Court, which termed it a “noble endeavor.”

“In a time when no one bothers to take care of orphans, we salute the efforts of Mohd Shahnawaz Zaheer though the couple is not benefited with anything,” said Justice Waziri. The essence of human endeavour is caring for innocent lives,” Justice Waziri observed. High Court recently appointed Mohd Shahnawaz Zaheer, a commercial pilot, as the guardian of the twins under the Hindu Minority & Guardianship Act. Justice Najmi Waziri also approved a trust set up in the name of the siblings, where the Indian Commercial Pilots Association and other well-wishers have contributed over one crore rupees. By virtue, the entire estate and remaining wealth of the dead parents will automatically go to the trust and not to the guardian.

In an interview with leading newspaper Times of India, Zaheer said “The HC order streamlined everything to allow the twins to integrate with us. I have a three-storey house and my in-laws and parents live with me. Ayush and Prarthana are the cynosure of their eyes. Since the court appointed me as guardian, now they will get a passport and can travel abroad with us.” Zaheer also disclosed how the court has entrusted one Arun Saini, a willing neighbour, to make sure the children receive Hindu religious instructions and can visit temple for prayers. “I don’t want them to ever convert. They will be raised as Hindus,” he said.

Friendship Beyond Religion

The twins lost their airhostess mother and pilot father within a year’s time in 2012 and were at the mercy of the family driver who took care of their basic needs. Though their father Praveen Dayal extracted a promise from Zaheer that he will take care of the twins, the latter remained unsure as cousins and distant relatives of Dayals allegedly laid claim to bank accounts and family property.

A hectic flying schedule kept Zaheer busy till he got a call from the sobbing kids complaining of maltreatment. Zaheer then filed a suit under the Guardianship Act, urging the court to give legal approval to his role as a guardian.

In his plea, Zaheer informed HC that during the critical phase of his illness, Praveen Dayal requested him to take care of the children. He also placed on record a statement by Dayal’s brother saying he has full faith in Zaheer for discharging the duty of guardianship of the children. With their maternal uncle and grandmother also settled abroad and expressing helplessness, the twins had nowhere to turn to, Zaheer pointed out.
Advocate Yogesh Jagiya, who fought the case free of cost, viewed it as an unprecedented order. “It was a cross-religion matter. There have been cases of adoption, but not of guardianship where you only raise the children but have no rights in their property. We worked hard to convince the court.”

Enrolled in a top public school in Delhi, Ayush says he wants to become a pilot while his sister wants to be a designer.

This proves the perfect example of friendship beyond religion and a landmark judgement.


Written by Jenifer Sayyed

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Dr. Jenifer Sayyed is a medical doctor by profession, with an interest in religious views.