A district court in Stavanger,Norway,today handed over the two NRI children at the centre of a nearly year-long custody battle to their uncle. The children will arrive in Delhi on Tuesday morning,their father Anurup Bhattacharya told The Indian Express.
The court gave custody of Abhigyan (3) and Aishwarya (1) to their uncle Arunabhash Bhattacharya after he,the childrens parents and Norways Child Welfare Service (CWS) submitted an undertaking saying the conditions for their care in India had been met.
The court has supported the joint application submitted by the childrens parents and the Child Welfare Service at the hearing on April 17, authorities in Norway said in a statement issued today.
The court issued a ruling granting the application made jointly by the parties. This stated that the grounds for removing the children from the care of their parents were and continue to be present,but that it is no longer necessary for them to stay with a family in Norway as agreement has now been reached that the children are to grow up in the care of their uncle and will not be living with their parents, the statement said.
The childrens uncle and their foster parents in Norway would accompany them to India,Anurup Bhattacharya said. He did not say when he would return to India himself. The childrens mother,Sagarika Bhattacharya,is currently with her parents in Kolkata.
The CWS took away Abhigyan and Aishwarya from their parents in May 2011 on grounds of deep neglect. A noisy uproar followed on Indian TV,and External Affairs Minister S M Krishna took personal interest in the matter,which was also taken up by CPMs Brinda Karat and BJPs Sushma Swaraj.
The government had egg on its face after it emerged last month that Anurup and Sagarika were having problems in their marriage. Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur conceded that a new situation has developed… we cannot interfere. Official sources said that the red flag about the situation in the family which was the crucial factor that led to the Norwegian authorities to take action in the first place had been raised by the Indian envoy in Oslo earlier.
Krishna today thanked the government of Norway and MEA officials for the resolution of the row. The statement by the Norwegian authorities said the process to enable the children to travel to India will be set in motion as quickly as possible.
Gunnar Toresen,head of CWS in Stavanger,said he was pleased that the parties have reached agreement. He described the cooperation with the Indian authorities as good.
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, he said.
In Kulti near Asansol,Anurups father Ajay Bhattacharya said he was eagerly awaiting his grandchildrens return. The children are likely to stay in Kulti,where Arunabhash,a dental surgeon,stays with his parents.
Sagarika was not available for a comment. Her uncle Debotosh Chakrabarty,who lives in Kolkata,said what is at present important is that the children come back to an Indian environment and grow up here.