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NRI children case: India in touch with Norway

New Delhi, Dec 24, 2011

The Indian government Saturday said it has been in touch with Norway over the surprise step by a Norwegian child centre to take away infant children of an NRI couple on grounds that they were not looked after properly by their parents.

"The embassy of India in Oslo has been in contact with the Indian couple in question and the Norwegian authorities," the external affairs ministry's spokesperson said here.

"The ministry of foreign affairs of Norway has been sensitized about the matter informally. The ministry of external affairs has also taken up the matter with the Norwegian embassy in New Delhi," the spokesperson said.

He was responding to a question about two infant children of Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya, an NRI couple living in Stavanger, Norway, who were taken under protective care by Barnevarne (Norwegian Child Welfare Services) in May.

Barnevarne has placed them in foster parental care as per the directive of the local Norwegian court, mandated under Norwegian laws.

Since then, Bhattacharya and his wife have been appealing to the Indian government for its help in getting their children back. As the matter is sub judice, the external affairs ministry has advised Bhattacharya to take suitable legal recourse.

The ministry stressed that it will continue to monitor the situation and added that the Indian embassy in Oslo has been and will continue to extend all possible consular assistance to Bhattacharya and his wife.

Speaking to Indian dailies, the couple from Kolkata said that the authorities came up with "bizarre explanations" for taking away their children and it appeared to them like "child kidnapping in a civilised society".

"They said the mother was incapable of taking care of the children -- that our daughter looked at the faces of other people around her instead of her mother's was evidence that we were not taking proper care of her, and that our son remained aloof in the kindergarten and banged his head on the floor," Anurup Bhattacharya told The Telegraph newspaper.