A Kolkata couple, living in Norway, has appealed for help to the Indian government and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee after their two children were taken away by the child welfare department. Norway's government-run Child Protective Services took away Sagarika and Anurup Bhattacharya's two children on May 11 this year, saying they were not being brought up properly.
The matter went to court, which decided on November 30 that the two children Avigyan, who's two-and-a-half now, and Aishwarya, who turned one on December 6, will be placed in separate foster homes till they are 18. And their parents can meet them only twice in a year for one hour at a time.
"We are very upset confronted with this overwhelming situation. I am a bereaved mother. I have lost my four-month-old baby and two-year-old son and we have lot of emotional attachment with the kids. Very difficult for us to survive," says Sagarika Bhattacharya.
However, it's still not clear on what grounds were the children taken away from the Indian couple by the Norway authorities. The couple, who live in Stavangers city, says cultural differences.
"They told me why are you sleeping with the children in the same bed. This is also a purely cultural issue. We never leave the children in another room and say goodnight to them," says Anurup Bhattacharya.
Norway's Child Protective Service, Called Barnevern, protects the rights of children living in a difficult family situation.
In 2005, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern "at the number of children removed from families and put in foster homes in Norway. It also said Norway must protect the natural family environment and send children to foster homes as a last resort in the best interests of the child.
The Bhattacharya family doesnt't believe what has been done to their family is in the best interest of the children.
"It's basically like a nightmare. Child kidnapping in a civilised society. We have appealed to the Indian embassy to being back the kids to India as soon as possible and I am ready to quit everything, my job and go back to India," says Mr Bhattacharya.
Relatives in Kolkata have also pleaded for government intervention.
"I beg with folded hands that they get my grandchildren back to our country," says Montosh Chakraborty, the children's grandfather.