Norway 'not 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 it cannot hand over the two Indian children taken into foster care to their uncle because of reports of "conflicts" in the family.

A Stavanger District Court hearing planned for Friday to decide the fate of the children has also been put off.

This followed media reports of "marital problems" between the parents.

Local social services say the parents failed to look after their children. The parents deny this.

The couple, Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya, say "cultural differences" led to the situation.

On Wednesday Indian diplomats also put off a trip to Norway to monitor the court case for the custody of the children.

Recently the child welfare agency had said that custody of the children should be awarded to their uncle.

A statement issued by Stavenger City Council said "new developments in the child welfare case involving two Indian children make it impossible to carry out the hearing in Stavenger district court that was scheduled for 23 March".

It quoted Gunnar Torensen, chief of the city's child welfare services, as saying that the "conflict" in the family "could influence the outcome of the case".

Mr Torensen said the child welfare service is "aware that there is great deal of external pressure on the family, and that makes it difficult for them to agree on a clear position".

"In light of the great uncertainty that prevails now, the child welfare servce cannot maintain that a move to India would be in the best interests of the children," he said.

Three-year-old Abhigyan and one-year-old Aishwariya Bhattacharya were put in foster care by the Stavanger Child Welfare Service last May, because they felt the children were at risk.

The case has received a lot of media attention in India and caused anger. Earlier this year the government decided to intervene and try to bring the children back to India.

This became a diplomatic issue between the two countries, with India saying the children should be allowed to live in their own cultural and linguistic environment.

But latest media reports have highlighted the "marital problems" between the parents and said this has complicated the case for the government.

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