They must travel a total of almost 500 km in a week to meet their mother

The trials and tribulations of the Bhattacharya toddlers, Abhigyan and Aishwarya, (three-and-a-half and one-and-a-half years respectively), who were brought home to India after a prolonged battle with Norway’s Child Welfare Service do not appear to have ended.

The Child Welfare Committee in Burdwan, West Bengal in its August 9 order, asked paternal uncle and legal guardian, Arunabhas Bhattacharya to make the children travel twice a week from Kulti, where they currently reside, to Burdwan — a distance of 120 km each way — so that their mother, Sagarika Chakraborty could exercise her visitation rights.

This means the children will travel a total of almost 500 km in the space of a week to meet their mother, who has been described by the Norwegian Child Welfare Service as “unfit” to cater for their needs. Abhigyan suffers from a serious personality disorder, known as attachment syndrome, wherein the child fails to form a strong bond of love with its principal care giver (whoever it may be) during the first 8 months of its life. Abhigyan systematically rejects his mother and is afraid of her as is evident from video clips seen by this correspondent in Norway. He also bangs his head, does not speak and shows characteristics of autism.

When contacted by this correspondent, Srikanta Basu, member of the Child Welfare Committee, Burdwan, said: “We have ordered the uncle to bring the children on August 18 and again during the same week so that the mother can exercise her visitation rights. The meeting is scheduled to take place on the premises of the Collectorate in Burdwan in the presence of a social worker and a child psychologist.”

Asked why the children were being made to travel so far, especially since one of them suffers from a serious psychological disorder, Dr. Basu said: “The mother lives in Kolkata. The children live in Kulti. We are making both parties travel half the distance.”

When told that Dr. Bhattacharya will have to take two days’ leave of absence from a job he has just joined, Dr. Basu said: “If he has taken up this responsibility, he must be prepared to make some sacrifices. But we are well aware of the situation and this decision will be reversed after the first two visits by the children.”

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