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India to continue to engage with Norway on NRI siblings

Delhi,Diplomacy, Thu, 29 Mar 2012 IANS

New Delhi, March 29 (IANS) The government Thursday said it would continue to engage with Norwegian authorities on the issue of Indian siblings, Abhigyan and Aishwarya, who have been taken into foster care in the Scandinavian country on grounds of alleged negligence by their parents.


"The government will continue to engage with Norwegian authorities on this matter. We hope this is only a temporary delay," Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur said in the Lok Sabha.


The minister was replying to a Calling Attention notice on the issue.


She said an alleged family dispute had dealt a setback to its efforts in getting the two Indian children back with their parents Anurup Bhattacharya and Sagarika Chakraborty, an NRI couple residing in Stavanger in Norway.


India has "sought the early return of the children to India to enable them to be brought up in familiar surroundings under the loving care of their family which was in their best long-term interests", Kaur said.


She said a Norwegian court hearing "would have considered this solution (but the hearing) was postponed after certain developments that led (the Norwegian Child Welfare Services) to conclude that the parents of the children and their families were not united".


"This has led to a setback to the entire process of the resolution of the case," Kaur said in the house.


The kids, aged three and one, were taken away from their parents by the child welfare services of the local municipality and placed under emergency foster care in May 2011.


After the Indian government's intervention, the authorities had agreed to recommend to a court in Norway March 23 that the children be placed in the custody of their uncle Arunabhas Bhattacharya.


However, that did not happen after reports of marital discord between the parents of the children.


The minister narrated the sequence of events leading to the separation of the two Indian children from their parents.


She said that the court hearing was set to take place in June now and hoped that the children would be brought back.


The minister said the "ostensible reason given by the CWS" included "fear of possible violence against the children and lack of adequate parental care".


Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj said India as a sovereign nation should "stop all business relations (with Norway) as a counter-measure" to get the children back.


"What Norway has done amounted to interference in our sovereign affairs. The separation of children from their parents is a violation of human rights and the rights of children," Sushma Swaraj said.


"Time has come for us to take counter-measures not only on this issue, but also on issues like Italian security guards killing two of our fishermen. We cannot even get our children back."


Adhir Chowdhury of the Congress and Communist Party of India-Marxist's Ramchandra Dome, Saidul Haque and P. Karunakaran also demand immediate return of the children to their parents' care.


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