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India to take up child custody dispute with Norway

23 January 12 12:56
Abhigyan Bhattacharya and Aishwariya Bhattacharya

India says it will try to seek an "amicable" solution to a controversial child custody case in Norway.

Two Indian children aged three and one were taken into foster care last May leaving their parents "devastated".

The parents said there were "cultural differences" the authorities took exception to, including sleeping with the children and feeding them by hand.

Norway's child welfare denied this, saying it only intervened when parents did not take "adequate responsibility".


The child custody case has caused anger in India.

Reports say that Indian Foreign Minister SM Krishna is likely to talk to his Norwegian counterpart Jonas Gahr Store to win the release of three-year-old Abhigyan Bhattacharya and his one-year-old sister Aishwarya.

"We are in touch with the Norwegian government and we are hopeful that an amicable settlement of this question could be arrived at," Mr Krishna told reporters.

"Whatever support is needed under the circumstances will be provided to the Indian couple," he said.

Relatives of the parents - Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya - have met Indian President Pratibha Patil to seek her intervention.

The children were taken under protective care by Barnevarne (Norwegian Child Welfare Services), which claimed there was an emotional disconnect with the parents.

Anurup Bhattacharya, a geo-scientist, who came to work and live in Stavanger in Norway in 2007, said: "We have been honest and perfect parents. There could be upbringing issues because of cultural differences."

The couple said: "They asked the mother to breast feed baby Aishwariya at scheduled times as a routine instead of feeding her when she cried as is the practice in India."

Gunnar Toresen, head of Child Welfare Services in Stavanger, said it had "a responsibility to intervene if measures at the home are not sufficient to meet a child's needs".

"Examples are when there is every probability that the child's health or development may be seriously harmed because the parents are incapable of taking adequate responsibility for their child."

Earlier this month, an official of the Indian embassy in Oslo visited the foster home where the children are staying and reported that they were in good health, India's external affairs ministry said.

The Indian embassy has told the Norwegian authorities that the children are being deprived of the benefits of being brought up in their own cultural and linguistic environment.

It said is was important that the children should return to India so that they could be brought up in familiar surroundings under the care of their extended family.

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