This Article is From Mar 19, 2012

Custody row: Two senior govt officials to leave for Norway ahead of hearing

Custody row: Two senior govt officials to leave for Norway ahead of hearing
New Delhi: Two senior officials from the Ministry of External Affairs will leave for Norway ahead of the hearing in the custody row involving Indian couple's two children.

An additional secretary and a joint secretary will be in Stavenger in Norway before the court hearing scheduled case next week.

The Indian couple - Sagarika and Anurup Bhattacharya - are fighting a legal battle with the Norwegian government to get back the custody of their kids, one-year-old Aishwarya and three-year-old Abhigyan.

The two children have been in foster care since May last year after child welfare officials in Norway decided that their parents were negligent. After the India government's intervention, the authorities had agreed to recommend to a court in Norway on March 23 that the children be placed in the custody of their uncle Arunabhash Bhattacharya.

Anurup, a geologist, moved to Norway in 2006. Trouble began at Abihgyan's school where teachers found him distant. Visits by local authorities scaled up into a number of charges against the parents - Sagarika was reported as being clinically depressed, though no medical test was conducted.  Anurup was evaluated as a parent more committed to work than to his children. Abhigyan it was said suffered from attachment disorder. The authorities claimed his reactions suggested he had either been hit or had been witnessing physical violence at home. The patents deny these charges.

The Indian government was nudged into intervention by desperate visits to Delhi by Sagarika's aged parents. They held protests, met President Pratibha Patil and petitioned the media for assistance. As a result of the campaign, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna promised them that their grandchildren would be brought back to India "at any cost."  India also rushed a special envoy Madhusudan Ganpathy to meet Oslo authorities and ask them to expedite the process.

Through the last month, the Norwegian Child Welfare Service has been working on positioning Arunabhas, a young dentist from West Bengal, as the children's guardian.