Norway's Child Welfare service has decided that the two Bhattacharya children in its custody, Aishwarya and Abhigyan, who were placed in care on May 11 last year following charges of parental neglect, will be handed over to their uncle as previously envisaged.
A fresh court date has been fixed for April 17 when the CWS is expected to tell the court to award the custody of the children to the uncle as planned.
“If the court decides that the children should be removed from the care of the public authorities, the agreement can be implemented as soon as practicable. The uncle will then take over care of the children and take them back to India,” states a press release issued by the Stavanger Kommune or municipality on Thursday.
The parents and the children's paternal uncle signed an agreement on March 21, notarised by a consular officer from the Indian embassy in Olso, under which Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya transferred the children's custody to him, naming him “guardian and foster parent.”
However, the same evening, the CWS cancelled a court hearing scheduled for March 23, saying it had gone back on the compromise worked out by the Indian and Norwegian governments involving the uncle as guardian.
The CWS decided to cancel its earlier promise after the fragile unity of the parents' families — the Bhattacharyas and the Chakrabortys — exploded in public, with accusations hurled by both sides through the media.
Ms. Bhattacharya left for India in a precipitate manner following the disclosure of these quarrels. The revelations suggested she was habitually violent and had several times attacked her husband — allegations that also dot the case file compiled by the CWS. The agency has repeatedly told The Hindu: “Under no circumstances do we want the custody of the children to go to the mother or her family.” It was the fear of a long “tug of war” over the children that made the CWS back out of its original plan.
“The uncle was also concerned that he would not have sufficient support and assistance with the care of the children on return to India. The situation is now different. The true basis for the case has now been made known in India, and he feels that he now has strong support there,” Mr Gunner Toresen who heads the CWS in Stavanger, said.
Sources within the CWS personally thanked The Hindu for “revealing the true nature of the case and the fact that it was not just cultural bias” to the Indian public.