After being kept in foster care for almost a year by authorities in Norway, the two Bhattacharya children landed in Delhi on Tuesday morning, bringing relief for all those who fought a long legal battle to secure their custody.
Abhigyan and Aishwarya arrived at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, accompanied by their foster father. They were received here by Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur.
External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna thanked Norway for their release, saying the children belonged to India. “They belong to India. They are Indian nationals. I am confident that the uncle will take care of them in the environment of their extended family in India,” he said.
“I thank the government of Norway, and, in particular, the Foreign Minister, for his constructive approach in resolving this humanitarian issue. I wish to congratulate the judicial system in Norway for taking such an enlightened decision. All's well that ends well,” Mr. Krishna said.
The children were taken away from their parents — Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya — by Norway's Child Welfare Service in May last year on grounds of “emotional disconnect.” A Norwegian court on Monday gave custody to their uncle, Arunabhas Bhattacharya. They took a flight, returning to India within hours of taking custody.
Ms. Kaur, who received the children at the airport, said: “We are very happy to have them again in India.”
Meanwhile, expressing satisfaction with the settlement of the custody row involving the two children, Norway said the resolution of the issue illustrated the “good relations” between the two countries.
“The two governments have been working very closely and constructively in solving the case. It illustrates the good relationship between the two countries,” Norwegian Ambassador Ann Ollestad said.
Brinda Karat, former MP and Communist Party of India (Marxist) Polit Bureau member — who had taken up the cause — also expressed happiness on the children's return, and said the Indian government had played an important role in bringing them safely to the country.
“This will send a strong message to Indians living abroad that if they haven't committed any offence, they can look to the Indian government for help,” she told The Hindu.
Kolkata Staff Reporter writes: “We are very happy. We thank the government of India and the media but need our space,” said Mr. Bhattacharya, on arrival in Kolkata on Tuesday evening.
Delighted that the children had returned, their grandfathers (both maternal and paternal) praised the efforts of the Centre to bring the children home. Monotosh Chakraborty, their maternal grandmother, and Ajoy Bhattacharya, their paternal grandfather, thanked the government for its “unbelievable and incredible help” in standing up for the family.
‘Sagarika also pained'
Mr. Chakraborty expressed hope that his grandchildren would get all the love and care from their elders. “Sagarika is very happy that the children have returned, but she is also pained that her children aren't with her,” he said. She, according to Mr. Chakraborty, was now at a relative's house.