My brother has taken them back to their own culture, says their father

“I feel immense relief and immeasurable joy that my children have been released and will be returning to India today [on Monday],” Arurup Bhattacharya, whose children, Abhigyan (3) and Aishwarya (1), became a cause celebre in India after they were placed in foster care by Norweigian authorities last May, told The Hindu in an interview.

“My only wish now is that the media, particularly the electronic media, stop interfering in our lives and leave us alone. My children are not animals in a menagerie that they should become the object of voyeurism and idle curiosity. Abhigyan has serious problems and we would not like anything to upset the fragile equilibrium he has been fighting to achieve,” Mr. Bhattacharya said.

The Norwegian District Court in Stavanger on Monday announced its verdict saying it had agreed to hand over custody of the children, who were placed in care on grounds of parental neglect, to the children's paternal uncle Dr. Arunabhas Bhattacharya, a 27-year-old dentist from Asansole. The children left Norway later in the day accompanied by the uncle, the foster father, a care worker Tove Roisland Hernes and Consular Officer Balachandran and his wife.

However, Mr. Bhattacharya said that while the months spent in foster care had helped his older child Abhigyan in some respects, his condition had deteriorated in others. Abhigyan is said to be suffering from Attachment Disorder, a personality disorder that develops in very early infancy when a child fails to receive adequate care and is unable to form a deep attachment with its principal caregiver that subsequently allows it to explore the world.

“I notice that Abhigyan's head banging has worsened. He has become even more stubborn and adamant than before. Yes, he does make eye contact now. But he has also started hitting his little sister, something he never did before,” Mr. Bhattacharya said. Placing the children away from their natural parents (even if there was marital discord in the family and the mother was unable to cope allegedly due to psychological problems) had not proved useful at all, Mr. Bhattacharya suggested. Placing both the children in alien foster environments had actually worsened the boy's condition, he said.

“My brother has taken them back to their own culture. He is their legal guardian now and is shouldering a great responsibility and a very heavy burden. The Stavanger Child Welfare Service (CWS) is confident that he is fully capable of giving the children the care and assistance they need,' Mr. Bhattacharya said.

There was some delay in handing over the final court document to Mr. Bhattacharya. “The delay was caused by the fact that the court went over the agreement again and took time to study it. I handed the court document to my client,” Svein Svendesen, Mr. Bhattacharya's lawyer told The Hindu.

However, there was a total refusal on the part of the Child Welfare Service to admit that it could in any way have mishandled the Bhattacharya case. In a press statement on the view taken by the court, the Stavanger Municipality said: “The grounds for removing the children from the care of their parents were and continue to be present, but it is no longer necessary for them to stay with a family in Norway as agreement has now been reached that the children are to grow up in the care of their uncle and will not be living with their parents.”

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