There is good news for the family of the two Indian children who are in the custody of the Norwegian Child Welfare Services on grounds of “emotional disconnect” with their parents — authorities of that country have agreed to hand over the children to their uncle and he will be their “primary caregiver and give them an upbringing that meets their needs.”
The agreement has been accepted by the family, but their physical handing over will still take some time.
The agreement was worked out among the Government of India through its mission in Norway, the Municipality of Stavenger, the Norwegian Child Welfare Services and Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya (parents of the children), who are represented by their lawyer.
Mr. Anurup Bhattacharya's brother, Arunabhash Bhattacharya, will be the primary caregiver of the two children until they reach the age of 18.
The agreement says Mr. Arunabhash Bhattacharya had agreed to the parents' wish and was aware of the responsibilities entailed with taking over the custody of the children. He lives in Kolkata and will be sent to Norway by the government on Monday, where the Child Welfare Services will ensure a gentle transition and allow him to meet the children before he returns to India.
However, under the agreement, the parents still have parental and visitation rights, the agreement said. External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna has thanked his Norwegian counterpart for the gesture.
Abhigyan (3) and Aishwarya (1) were taken under protective care by Barnevarne (Child Welfare Services) last year on grounds of emotional disconnect with the parents, and placed them in foster parental care as per the local court's directive.
Efforts to restore the custody of the children picked up after their grandparents — Monotosh and Shikha Chakraborty — met President Pratibha Patil over the weekend to seek her intervention in the matter. Following this, Mr. Krishna spoke to his Norwegian counterpart, Jonas Gahr Store and requested him to find an “amicable and urgent” settlement.
India also expressed its concern to the Norwegian Ministry over the children being deprived of the undoubted benefits of being brought up in their own ethnic, religious cultural and linguistic milieu.
Mr. Store assured Mr. Krishna that the Norwegian authorities were working hard to find a solution that was in the best interests of the children.
The Child Welfare Services said it was always committed to finding a solution that would be in the best interests of the children and were engaged in a dialogue with the Indian Embassy and parent's legal representative.
Denying charges of “cultural prejudice” and “cultural insensitivity,” Gunnar Toresen, Head of Child Welfare Services, said it had the responsibility to intervene if measures in the home were not sufficient to meet a child's needs.