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Updated: April 18, 2012 03:01 IST

I'm confident kids will be sent to India: Bhattacharyas' counsel

Vaiju Naravane
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A protest by grandparents of the two children who have been taken away by the Norwdgian Child Welfare Services, in New Delhi. File photo
The Hindu A protest by grandparents of the two children who have been taken away by the Norwdgian Child Welfare Services, in New Delhi. File photo

Urges Norway court to hand over custody of children to their paternal uncle

The Tingret or district court in this Norwegian city on Tuesday heard arguments presented by the lawyer for Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya and the advocate of the Child Welfare Service (CWS), on the possible return to India of their children, Abhigyan (3) and Aishwarya (1), placed in care by the authorities last May on grounds of gross parental neglect. Judge Anne Kamilla Silseth will give her verdict in the next few days.

“I am more than confident that the verdict in a week's time will be favourable and that the children will be able to return home before the end of the month and that I shall be in a position to accompany them,” the Bhattacharyas' lawyer, Svein Svendesen, told The Hindu.

The Government of India has sent two special envoys to the hearing, including Banashree Bose Harisson, Additional Secretary (West), in the Ministry of External Affairs. India's ambassador to Norway R.K. Tyagi and his consular officer Balachandran were also present.

Mr. Svendesen pleaded that custody of the children be handed to their paternal uncle, Dr. Arunabhas Bhattacharya.

The CWS' main objection to giving the parents custody of the children has been that, in its view, the mother, who, it believes, has psychological problems, is not a good caregiver and is unlikely to ever become one in future.

Mrs. Bhattacharya denies she has psychological problems and has refused to meet a psychologist.

Abhigyan has been diagnosed by the CWS with suffering from an Attachment Disorder, described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a personality disorder in which a child, in very early infancy, fails to establish a strong attachment to its primary caregiver because of neglect, indifferent or inconsistent care giving or abuse. “The ostensible reason given by the CWS included fear of possible violence against the children and lack of adequate parental care,” Minister Preneet Kaur told the Lok Sabha on March 29.

Last month, the head of the CWS in Stavanger, Gunnar Toresen, told this correspondent: “Our worry is what happens when the children go back. The father is capable and a good carer, but we are worried about the mother and her family. Under no circumstances do we want the custody of the children to go to the mother and her family.”

Sources within the CWS who wish to remain anonymous because of confidentiality clauses told this correspondent: “Mrs. Bhattacharya … lacks the emotional maturity to successfully carry the burden that is hers — to properly bring up two small children, one of whom has an Attachment Disorder. It must be understood that she may be a loving mother without being a good carer.”

With such a categorically negative analysis of the mother and her extended family's ability to give the children the care and stability they need in India, the CWS has refused to send the children back while there remains a risk of custody battle between the two sides. A careful compromise worked out by the MEA under which the uncle would take custody of the children was thrown into jeopardy when the Bhattacharya couple's quarrelling came into the open. Subsequently, Mrs. Bhattacharya left Norway for India. However, her sudden departure appears to have reassured the CWS. “We now feel the children's uncle will be in a much stronger position. The Indian government fully understands the situation and he will receive all the aid and support needs. Also this young man [the children's uncle] who is responsible, intelligent and determined, has developed tremendous rapport with the children. The attachment is deep and depriving them of his presence at this stage would cause them more trauma,” Mr. Toresen had said.

Mr. Svendesen agreed: “The fact is that the Indian government, represented by the special envoy, the ambassador, the legal specialist and the consular officer, bore witness to the trial. The government was thus witness to the facts of the case as recounted in the court and the real reasons why the Child Welfare Service did not wish the custody of the children to go to the mother and her family. This should give the uncle, Dr. Arunabhas Bhattacharya, who is to take custody, added guarantees.”

The hearing was held in camera and journalists were asked to clear the courtroom before the proceedings began.

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Ms. Grover is ill informed and her views are far from rational - psychologists are paid huge sums to come with all kinds of theories!! It is in complete denial of psychatric conditions people may suffer from and the impact on child rearing/caring it may have.

from:  nisha
Posted on: Apr 25, 2012 at 20:18 IST

Dr. Grover

I have worked as a welfare officer in the Norwegian welfare sector and I dis-agree
with your ill-informed views. Dr. Sivarajan & Mr. Kader are right when they say that
unless there were grave concerns with respect to the care the kids were getting
this extreme step might not have been taken. The mandate of the CWS is not to
stigmatise the mother as you claim but to protect vulnerable children.

Several instances, independent of the CWS, came to the same conclusion with
regard to the 2 children. The substantive part of the CWS assessment builds on the
state of denial the mother was in with respect to her own medical needs and her
refusal to acknowledge its adverse impact on the kids. Additionally, corporal
punishment was meted out to the child, there was domestic violence and general
neglect of the kids’ needs. So your assertion that the CWS used the mother as a
scapegoat to cover its mistakes is incorrect.

You can take the horse to the water but you cant make him drink.

from:  V. Suresh
Posted on: Apr 24, 2012 at 20:12 IST

@Shalini Grover:What you write about the Norwegian CWS is totally wrong.After having
been living in Scandinavia for more than three decades, out of that more than ten years in
Norway, I know the CWS works for the best of the children.It can have it's own defects, but
the way you paint the CWS is coming out of your ignorance.The Norwegians in general
recognize also the CWS as an important and useful organization.

from:  A.Kader
Posted on: Apr 19, 2012 at 17:44 IST

@Shalini Grover:What you write about the Norwegian CWS is totally wrong.After having
been living in Scandinavia for more than three decades, out of that more than ten years in
Norway, I know the CWS works for the best of the children.It can have it's own defects, but
the way you paint the CWS is coming out of your ignorance.The Norwegians in general
recognize also the CWS as an important and useful organization.

from:  A.Kader
Posted on: Apr 19, 2012 at 17:43 IST

Dear Mr. k sivarajan, I do not mean to be inpolite; "I am a doctor who has been working as a GP in the UK. I can see that the CWS would not have taken this step unless they had grave concerns".
This is the tragedy of Norwegian children - taken into custody by the CWS. "I am a doctor". By using a title, you can tell the thruth: "CWS would not have taken this step unless they had grave concerns". And by that, consolidate one of the worst enemies of parents and children making them totally helpless: When the CWS says it - it´s true. When the CWS did it - it "has to" serious.
In Norway there are a lot of similar cases, for no reasons, they´re removing children. And leading intellectuals are now standing up against the system: A new organizacion have decided, the reality shall be brought out to common people. The CWS in England and Norway, has fundemental differences.

from:  ash
Posted on: Apr 19, 2012 at 12:52 IST

"The CWS would not have taken this step unless they had grave concerns": Let me inform you K. Sivaranjan, that it was the Bhattacharyas who approached the CWS for help and assistance(not the other way around). This is not a debate about whether Indian parents are better than others. Much has been written about how the CWS could have done so much more to help this family, rather than just moving their children into a foster home. The family shifts to a new country, cannot speak the language and the mother is likely to suffer from post-natal depression: the father is working long hours. There is an ongoing newspaper debate in Norway about how dictatorial, dangerous, non-transparent and high-handed the Norwegian CWS is. While India does not have services to rescue children facing problems in their family, this does not mean that countries with such institutions are free, in the Norwegian case, from extensive abuse of power.

from:  Dr. Shalini Grover
Posted on: Apr 18, 2012 at 12:51 IST

I disagree with Dr Grover's response. I am a doctor who has been working as a GP in the UK. I can see that the CWS would not have taken this step unless they had grave concerns. We come across similar situations in UK as well with indian parents. We have to accept that not all parents will be good carers. In India there is very little concept of child care protection, if parents do not fulfil their role child abuse often
goes unreported. In other countries there is a mechanism to avoid this and that is where social services step in. In most situations parents will change their errant behaviour and the children are kept with their families. However there will be exceptions to the rule. In this case the mother seems to be in denial that there is a concern and does not want to engage in the process of reconciliation. In that sort of situation extreme measures have to be taken which is unfortunate for all concerned. Indian parents have no right to think that they are better than the rest.

from:  k sivarajan
Posted on: Apr 18, 2012 at 11:50 IST


It is grossly and utterly unfair the way Sagarika Bhattacharya has been stigmatized and portrayed in this entire child custody ordeal. I suppose the Child Welfare Services in Norway need a convenient scapegoat to cover up their mistakes. It is good to hear that 'Mrs Bhattacharya denies she has psychological problems and has refused to meet a psychologist' Her side of the story and her 'voice' has been completely sidelined. I would urge the media and readers not to swallow the 'attachment disorder' theory that is going around. In an age of diagnostics, psychologists are paid huge sums to come with all kinds of theories. The condition, 'Attachment Disorder' needs far deeper and critical scrutiny by other experts in different cultural settings.

from:  Dr. Shalini Grover
Posted on: Apr 18, 2012 at 08:55 IST

It´s sad to read this article, really sad. As all the Norwegian newspapers, now also
The Hindu has changed into beeing speakers for the CWS -Barnevernet. This is
really sad to see, and it leaves no more hope for help abroud.

What does it help - tell in a comment to a journalist, the CWS is not qualified nor
given any admition by law, to give diagnosis.

What is it, with this CWS-system, all journalist are like very easy to brain-wash.
doesn´t the journalist see the cruality: A little child, kidnapped from his mother
and father, he lost his hole worl without beeing able to understand anything.
Small children usually believes their parents are dead. It´s a dreadful trauma, of
course he wont be able to "connect" to anyone.

Then they blame the mother. I feel so sorry for her! I hope she read this. There
are people in this world, who knows what you´re going thrue. It´s sad to see The
Hindu is not any longer critical, repeating what CWS says. There is no hope.

from:  ash
Posted on: Apr 18, 2012 at 03:47 IST
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