New Delhi: It has been nine months since Norway's child protection society (CPS) put Avignan (3 years old) and Aishwarya (1 year old), children of Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya in foster care. The authorities have alleged the Bhattacharyas are incapable of raising their children as they were found 'force-feeding' the kids, and slept with their children in the same bed, a violation of Norwegian norms.
Child rights experts in India have condemned the action and demanded that the children be reunited with their family, and the Ministry of External Affairs has sent E Ganapati, secretary, Europe (West), as an emissary to Norway. The Visa of the children expires on 8 March.
Ajay and Krishna Bhattacharya, paternal grandparents of children, are in New Delhi for a sit-in protest. Sitting metres away from the Norwegian embassy, Ajay Bhattacharya spoke to Firstpost on the issue.
Q: Have you got any assurance from the government of India?
A: Yes. This morning at 10am, we met the external affairs minister. He said that he has sent Mr Ganapati as an envoy to resolve this issue. He assured that something positive will emerge soon.
Q: Are you satisfied with the government's efforts?
A: These are diplomatic matters. They take time. It took time for the government to make the first move. The movement was slow but we are satisfied.
Q: Have you been to Norway?
A: Yes. The Norwegian authorities took the kids away from my son and daughter-in-law in May last year. My son told us about this in August. From September to November, we were in Norway. We witnessed the court proceedings, too.
Q: Did you discover more such cases in Norway?
A: Three months is too less a time to know these things.
Q: Your son, Anurup, is in Norway since 2006. Did he ever speak to you about the laws and regulations in Norway?
A: Yes. He told us that the rules were really strict, including the ones for parenting. He knew that the country had strict punishment for violation of child rights and child abuse.
Q: The children's Visa expires on 8 March. Are you hopeful of a positive development before that?
A: Next court hearing in Norway is scheduled on 23 March. The court will decide on the matter. We think that the visa will get extended and children will remain in Norway at least till the court hearing.
Q: Till how long will your demonstration continue?
A: We are expecting the Indian envoy to return tomorrow. Let us see what news he brings us. The future of our protest depends on how successful are the government's attempts to bring back the kids.
Q: Once the kids are reunited with the family, will they continue living in Norway?
A: No. Anurup will return to India with his family.