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Norway custody case: Give children to mother, say Bengal's child welfare officials

Norway custody case: Give children to mother, say Bengal's child welfare officials
Burdhan:  A new twist in what has come to be known as the Norway custody case- the Child Welfare Committee(CWC) of Burdwan in West Bengal today passed an interim order that Abhighyan, 4, and Aishwarya, 2, should be released from foster care of their uncle and handed over to their mother. But the uncle's family refused to give up the children and the local police refused to intervene in the matter without proper papers. (Read Child Welfare Committee's press release on its order)

CWC member Shika Sarkar Aditya said, "There was a mob outside the uncle's house and we could not take custody of the children. We asked the police for help but they did not do anything."

Police sources say they will have to examine the papers. They will also have to confirm with the government which body was higher: the Norway court that gave the children's custody to the uncle or the CWC which has ordered that the children be handed over to the mother.

The CWC, in a press release, said, "We have found the mother to be fit to take care of the children and their foster carer to have failed in his duties towards the children.

"We were unable to take charge of the children today for handover to their mother owing to unavailability of police assistance to control an unruly mob that had gathered around the foster home. We have ordered police to ensure law and order so that children can be peacefully handed over at the earliest," the press release added.

In April, a court in Norway had given the custody of the children of estranged couple Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya who lived in that country to Anurup's brother Arunabhash after it found the mother unfit to take care of the children

The Indian government had to intervene in the matter.

Arunabhash returned to India on 24th April with the children and has since then been taking care of them at his home at Kulti in Burdwan district where he lives with his parents.

In June, Sagarika applied to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) of Burdwan to intervene in the matter and have the children handed back to her.

The Child Welfare Committee of Burdwan today passed interim orders for release of the siblings from foster care and restoration to their mother.

CWC member Shikha Sarkar Aditya, in a press release, said, "Along with expert assistance, we have evaluated the children, their condition in the foster home and the capability of their mother to care for them. We have found the mother to be fit to take care of the children and their foster carer to have failed in his duties towards the children.

"The care of Abhigyan and Aishwarya is governed by Indian law by virtue of their residence in India and the agreement under which the children were given in foster care to their paternal uncle. Under Indian law, foster care is a temporary measure with the aim of restoration of foster children to their
parents wherever possible.

"Notwithstanding any agreements or court orders as to foster care, the Child Welfare Committee is duty bound to change the foster carer or restore foster children to a parent if continuation in foster care is no longer necessary or beneficial for them. Foster children have a right to the love and care of their parents, if the parents are able to raise them. In this case, the father does not reside in India and the children are being restored to the mother as the parent present in India.

"The Norwegian orders under which the children were released to foster care of their 26-year-old bachelor uncle do not justify an absolute or permanent separation of the children from either of their parents. Our findings as to the fitness of the mother and her interaction with the children at visitations arranged by us establish a reasonable basis for giving an opportunity to the children to be re-united with their mother. We are keeping the case open for further review once the children re-commence life with their mother."

Sagarika Bhattacharya was not available for comment but her father Monotosh Chakraborty said, "We are deeply disappointed that the children were not handed over to us today. But are convinced we will get the children's custody sooner or later."

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