Norway 'to release' India children in custody row

Abhigyan Bhattacharya and Aishwariya Bhattacharya
Image caption The children were put into foster care by Norwegian child services last May

A child welfare agency in Norway has said that custody of two Indian children taken from their parents and put into foster care should be awarded to the children's uncle.

This would allow them to return to India, Stavanger Child Welfare Service said in a statement.

A local court will make the final decision in March, the statement said.

The children, aged three and one, were removed when child services said their parents had failed to look after them.

A provisional date of 23 March has been set for Stavanger District Court to hear the case.

"This week the Child Welfare Service (CWS) in Stavanger completed its talks with the uncle in the child welfare case concerning two Indian children," the statement said.

"It has been concluded that care of the two children should be awarded to the brother of the children's father enabling him to take the children back to India."

The CWS said it wanted to be sure "the necessary legal framework and follow-up procedures are in place in order to safeguard the children's best interests".

The case has received so much attention in India that Delhi sent an envoy to discuss the case with Norwegian authorities.

The Indian government said the children were being deprived of the benefits of being brought up in their own cultural and linguistic environment and it was important they should return to India as soon as possible.

The children were removed from the parents and put into foster care last May.

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

The child welfare agency has denied this, saying it only intervened when the children's safety was at risk.

They were recently allowed to spend a couple of hours with the children in the presence of social workers.

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