A group of 100 citizens, including activists and European parliamentarians, today asked External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj not to spare any effort in enabling the Indo-Norwegian couple to be reunited with their child, taken away by Norwegian authorities. In a petition to Swaraj, the activists said, “We, the undersigned citizens and residents of Norway, relatives of victims in Norway and activists from around the world, are writing to express our support for your intervention in the matter of the 5-year-old only child of Anil Kumar and Gurvinderjit Kaur who has been snatched by Barnevernet in Oslo, Norway last week.”
The group, which included Tomas Zedechovsky, Member of European Parliament (MEP) and former Norway Parliamentarian Jan Simonsen, also alleged that the Barnevernet, the Norwegian child protection authority has for many years been “wrongly” taking children from loving parents in Norway.
“The reasons are incompetence, overbearing officials, lack of transparency, inadequate judicial oversight, and, in cases involving cultural and religious minorities, prejudice and racism,” they further charged.
Appreciating India’s earlier efforts in saving Indian children from Barnevernet and highlighting the human rights abuses of Barnevernet in Norway, the petition urged Swaraj “to spare no effort in enabling the child to be reunited with his family in Norway or repatriated to India where he can be brought up by his extended family in the country and culture of his origin, and to which he has been used since birth.
“This is his right under both Norwegian law and international law.”
The petition, which was circulated by Suranya Aiyar, daughter of Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar, also said some of the members have been “victims” of Barnevernet.
“We have been campaigning against Norway’s cruel child protection regime for years and this year alone there have been protests every month against Barnevernet attended by hundreds in cities around Norway,” it added.
Indian national Kaur and her husband, who is a Norwegian national, have alleged that authorities in that country have taken away their son, also a Norwegian national, on a frivolous complaint of abuse.
Swaraj had on Tuesday said India wants the five-and-a-half-year-old boy united with his natural parents, and refused to accept that foster parents can take better care of the child than the natural parents.
“The foster parents are totally ignorant of the Indian culture and our food habits. We want restoration of Aryan to his natural parents,” she had said.
However, Norwegian officials during his meeting with the Indian Ambassador in Oslo had said it was handling the case in accordance with the Norwegian Child Welfare Act which includes directions from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
They also informed him that since child welfare cases are highly sensitive, the cases are therefore subject to a strict duty of confidentiality.