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Exclusive News NRI

Norway Child Custody Row: Hearing today to decide NRI kids’ custody

Stavanger, Norway Apr 17 (): After about close to a year and prolonged battle from all quarters, the  Norwegian court at Stavanger today would decide if it would hand over the custody of the 2 young kids to their uncle, Arunabhas Bhattacharya and fly them back to India to live with their extended family.

A look at the case background in brief:

The 2 young children of Sagarika and Anurup Bhattacharya, 3-year-old Abhigyan and 1-year-old Aishwarya were taken under  the custody of the Norwegian Child Welfare Services (CWS) since May 2011 and placed under foster care, citing reasons of ‘emotional disconnect’ and negligence by parents.

Feb 27-March 1, 2012: The grandparents of the children, Monotosh and Shikha Chakrabarti staged a sit-in protest from Feb 27 -March 1 in front of the Norway embassy in Kolkata, demanding to hand over the children back.

Feb 27, 2012: Special emissary Madhusudhan  Ganapathi, was flown by India to meet with the Norway foreign minister to put the children under the care of their paternal uncle and thereby bring an end to the year-long battle.

March 21, 2012: The parents after extended battle with the CWS agreed to hand over the custody of their children to Anurup’s brother- Kolkata-based Arunabhas Bhattacharya.

March 23, 2012: A local court in Norway was scheduled to conduct the hearing on the children’s custody and arrive at a final verdict. However, the hearing was called off as the children’s father Anurup Bhattacharya accused his wife Sagarika of having an unidentified psychological problem and also physically assaulting him. The children’s mother,Sagarika returned back to India post marital conflict.

Following the NRI couple’s open conflict, the Norwegian court rejected its earlier proposal of handing over the children’s custody to their uncle. And, Indian government too showed restraint in the case when the couples’ disagreement with each other came out in the open.

While there were criticisms in some circles about the authoritative nature of the Norwegian Child Welfare Services, the children’s intermediary in Norway, Reidar Hjermann said that children from other countries should be protected in the same way as Norwegian children against abuse and neglect.

The final judgement is expected in about a week’s time from now.