An NRI couple is living a nightmare in Norway as they continue to fight the battle to get their children back from the Norwegian government.
Two young children of Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya, were taken under protective care by a childcare agency and placed in foster care in May last year.
Anurup is a geoscientist and has been working in working in Norway since 2007. Norwegian Child Welfare Services took the custody of the children on grounds that the couple failed to care for them.
The matter went to court, which decided that the children will be placed in separate foster homes till they are 18. The parents are allowed to meet them only twice in a year for one hour at a time.
It is unclear on what grounds were the children taken away from the Indian couple by the Norway authorities. The couple cite cultural differences.
“They told me why are you sleeping with the children in the same bed. This is also a purely cultural issue. We never leave the children in another room and say goodnight to them,” says Anurup Bhattacharya.
Norway’s Child Protective Service, Called Barnevern, protects the rights of children living in a difficult family situation.
In the meantime, India has conveyed its “serious concerns” to Norway over separation of two children, Avigyan (3) and Aiswarya (1), from their Indian parents and insisted that the kids should be allowed to return with the couple in case they decide to come back home.
The Indian embassy in Oslo has pursued the matter with the Norwegian foreign ministry, while the Norwegian embassy in New Delhi received a similar request from Indiaâ€™s external affairs ministry.
India’s serious concerns were conveyed regarding the need to take into account social and cultural traditions of the country to which the parents and the children belong before taking a decision to separate the children from the parents.
“It was also emphasised that if the parents decide to return to India then the children should be allowed to return with them as there could be no doubt that it would be in the long-term interest of the two young Indian children as they would be brought up in the loving care of their extended family in India,” the statement said.
As the children were Indian nationals, the Embassy has sought access to them to check on their welfare.
The chidlrenâ€™s visas expire in February. They said the couple fear that their children would not be allowed to return with them.
When Anurup visited the childcare agency along with his lawyer, he was asked to submit his passport along with the passports of his children. “They told me that it was my responsibility to get the visa of my children extended. Then I told them that I would prefer to return to India along with my children and so, I am not keen on extending my visa. The officials then tried to force me to submit the passports,” Anurup alleged.
Anurup now suffers from a rare disease called haemochromatosis, because of which his body is producing excess iron. “Almost every week, a litre of blood needs to be removed from my body to reduce the iron level to normal,” Anurup said.