IN THE third such case in the last five years, a five-year-old child has been separated from his NRI parents by Norwegian authorities, who have accused them of beating him up.
Speaking to The Indian Express from Oslo, the boy’s father, Anil Kumar, said, “The Child Welfare Department of Norway took custody of my five-and-a-half-year-old son on December 13, at 9.30 am, from his kindergarten school. They did not give us prior information. At 10 am, the same day, four policemen came to my house, took my wife into custody, and interrogated her from 11.15 am to 2.45 pm.
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Kumar, who owns an Indian restaurant and has served as vice-president of the Overseas Friends of the BJP in Oslo, said the boy has been sent to a children’s welfare home in Hamar, about 150 km away from Oslo.
“When we asked for the reason, it was conveyed to us that we had beaten up our son,” said Kumar, who migrated from Punjab to Norway about 26 years ago. He and his wife, Gurvinderjit Kaur, have reached out to BJP leaders in Delhi and sought the government’s intervention.
“They interrogated our child for about one-and-a-half hours. They showed us some of those videos. The video shows that when asked whether his parents have loud discussions with each other and if they beat him up, his answer was no. When they asked him whether his grandfather had beaten him up, he became very angry,” said Kumar.
He claimed that the police then took his son to another room. On his return to the place where he was being interviewed and videographed, the child then reportedly told the police that he had been beaten up.
Kumar and his wife met their son at the welfare home on Monday. “He was wearing the same clothes and undergarments in which he had gone to school a week ago. He is not receiving proper care from the child welfare department. He hugged us and cried a lot… he is our only child…why would we torture him,” he said.
“He is an active child, and is very fussy about eating… He likes to eat Indian food… he is being given bread and porridge, and has not been eating well,” he said. “I have never even raised my voice at him, how can I beat him up? His mother spent sleepless nights taking care of him as he is an asthma patient. How can we physically hurt our beloved son,” said Kumar.
“We are very disturbed. His 80-year-old grandfather is a heart patient and has not eaten properly… We are very scared. We are not able to concentrate on anything. They have snatched away our son from us. We can´t live without him. We are shattered. We are crying day and night,” he said.
“We met the child welfare officials twice, on December 14 and 16, and they haven’t been able to produce any evidence. They said they received a complaint from a person. We are not sure who registered this baseless complaint against us…By doing this, he or she has ruined our family life,” he said, as he hinted at a personal rivalry.
Referring to earlier cases involving NRI parents in 2011 and 2012, Kumar said: “Unlike those cases, where the children had burn marks and visible bruises, there is nothing of that sort… We are law abiding peaceful citizens of Norway, with deep-rooted Indian values. We hope the Indian government will help us.”
The Norwegian embassy in Delhi, when contacted, said they were ascertaining the facts from the authorities in Oslo. Meanwhile, BJP leader Vijay Jolly, former convenor of OFBJP, met Norwegian embassy officials on Wednesday and raised the issue.
3rd case in 5 years: earlier examples
* In 2011, a three-year-old and a one-year-old were separated from their parents, Sagarika and Anurup Bhattacharya. The then UPA government took up the issue with the Norwegian government. The Norwegian court later allowed the children to be reunited with their parents.
* In December 2012, a court in Norway convicted an Indian couple in a child abuse case. Anupama Vallabhaneni was sent to jail for 15 months, and her husband, Chandrasekhar, got an 18-month prison term. The children, 7 and 2 years, were sent to their grandparents in Hyderabad.