Waiting with apprehension for the decision of the Stavanger District Court in the custody case, expatriate couple Sagarika and Anurup Bhattacharya hope they will soon be reunited with their children after this final hurdle is crossed. The children were taken away from the couple by Norwegian Child Welfare Services.
“We have been told that Child Welfare Services have agreed to hand over the children to my brother-in-law. The date of the court hearing is March 23 and we hope for a favourable decision so that the children can be returned to the family at the earliest,” Ms. Bhattacharya told The Hindu over telephone from Stavanger in Norway on Wednesday.
According to a press release issued by the Stavanger Municipality, the Child Welfare Services completed their talks with the children's uncle Arunabhash Bhattacharya and concluded that custody should be awarded to him.
“It has been a ten-month-long fight for us. And the worst has been that no one understands that my husband and I are not to blame. The Norwegian authorities have made it appear as if all of it is our fault,” Ms. Bhattacharya said.
She broke down in tears, recounting her experience over the last few months, right from the day the children were taken away – Abhigyan from his kindergarten school and Aishwarya from their own home – by the authorities without prior notice, to the days she and her husband spent in court hoping for custody of their children, only to be told that they were not able parents and that the children would continue to live in foster care.
She was all praise for the officials and Indian diplomats who intervened on behalf of the family. It was after the intervention of the Indian Government that the Norwegian authorities agreed to hand over the children to their uncle, setting in motion the ongoing “necessary legal framework and follow-up procedures.”