Norway court hands over Indian children to uncle (Lead)

April 23rd, 2012 - 9:40 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi/Kolkata, April 23 (IANS) In a major breather for the Bhattacharya family, a Norwegian court Monday decided to hand over the custody of two children, put under foster care due to troubles between their parents, to their uncle.

The Indian government is now making arrangements to facilitate the Indian siblings’ return to India.

According to the siblings’ grandfather, they could be returning to India Tuesday.

“The Norwegian court in Stavanger has today (Monday) announced its verdict to hand over the custody of the Indian children in foster care to their uncle,” official sources here said in New Delhi soon after the court’s decision was known.

India had put in all diplomatic efforts to ensure that the Indian siblings, Abhigyan and Aishawarya, who were taken into foster care in the Scandinavian country on grounds of negligence by their parents Anurup Bhattacharya and Sagarika Chakraborty, returned to their homeland and grow up in their family environment.

“It is expected that the children along with their uncle will return to India very shortly. The ministry of external affairs is making all necessary arrangements in this regard,” the sources said.

According to a press statement by the Stavenger Municipality, the Stavanger District Court decided that the uncle (Arunabhash Bhattacharya) is to take over care of the children. They will leave for India as soon as the necessary arrangements have been made.”

Granting the application made jointly by the children’s parents and the Child Welfare Service, the court held that the ground (negligence) for removing the children from the care of their parents though existed, it was no longer necessary for them to stay with a family in Norway.

The children are to grow up in the care of their uncle and will not be living with their parents, as an agreement has been reached between the parties in this regard, it said.

“On behalf of Stavanger municipality, I would like to thank the Indian authorities and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their help in finding a satisfactory solution to this case. Growing up in the care of their uncle in India is a good long-term alternative for the children,” said Gunnar Toresen, head of the Child Welfare Service in Stavanger, according to the statement.

In Kolkata, the children’s grandfather Ajay Bhattacharya expressed happiness over the settlement and said the children along with their uncle are likely to reach New Delhi Tuesday.

Last month, an alleged family dispute had dealt a setback to Indian government’s efforts in getting the two Indian children back with their parents, an NRI couple residing in Stavanger.

India has sought the early return of the children to India to enable them to be brought up in familiar surroundings under the loving care of their family, which was in their best long-term interests, the government had told parliament last month.

The kids, aged three and one, were taken away from their parents by the child welfare services of the local municipality and placed under emergency foster care in May 2011.

After the Indian government’s intervention, the authorities had agreed to recommend to a court in Norway March 23 that the children be placed in the custody of their uncle.

However, that did not happen immediately after reports of marital discord between the parents surfaced.

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