Finally, NRI kids return home from Norway

Abhigyan (3) and Aishwarya (1), the NRI kids who saw a long battle in Norway over their custody, finally returned to India on Tuesday.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi/Stavanger: Abhigyan (3) and Aishwarya (1), the NRI kids who saw a long battle in Norway over their custody, finally returned to India on Tuesday.

The two arrived at New Delhi’s IGI Airport this morning and were received by their maternal grandparents.

Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur, who was present at the airport, said the kids were brought to India by their foster father and several other officials from Norway.

External Affairs Minister SM Krishna had earlier thanked the Norwegian government following an amicable resolution of the custody row.

"They belong to India. They are Indian nationals. I am confident that the uncle will take care of them in the environment of their extended family in India," he said.

"I thank the government of Norway and in particular the foreign minister for his constructive approach in resolving this humanitarian issue. I wish to congratulate the judicial system in Norway for taking such an enlightened decision. All is well that ends well," Krishna added.

On Monday, a Norwegian court had handed over the two NRI children in foster care to their paternal uncle, ending months of custody row that saw India stepping up diplomatic pressure on Norway to send back the kids, taken away by the authorities here last year.

"Stavanger District Court has decided in the child welfare case involving two Indian children that the uncle is to take over care of the children," the Child Welfare Service (CWS), which had put the children in foster care, said.

Giving the custody of Abhigyan and Aishwarya to their uncle Arunabhash Bhattacharya, the court thereby supported the joint application submitted by the children`s parents and the CWS at the hearing on Tuesday (April 17), it said.

The court issued a ruling granting the application made jointly by the parties which stated that the "grounds for removing the children from the care of their parents were and continue to be present, but that it is no longer necessary for them to stay with a family in Norway as agreement has now been reached that the children are to grow up in the care of their uncle and will not be living with their parents," CWS said.

Expressing thanks to the Indian authorities, Gunnar Toresen, head of the Child Welfare Service in Stavanger, said he was pleased that the parties have reached agreement and described cooperation with the Indian authorities as good.

"On behalf of Stavanger municipality, I would like to thank the Indian authorities and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their help in finding a satisfactory solution to this case. Growing up in the care of their uncle in India is a good, long-term alternative for the children," he said.

Abhigyan and Aishwarya were taken away from their parents --Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya -- by CWS in May last year on grounds of "emotional disconnect".

Reacting to the court verdict, the children`s father Anurup had said, "Big Big relief. I can`t say how much relieved I am after one year of trauma and tension...This is the day I have been waiting for."

He said he has been told not to go back to India with the children and hence will stay back in Norway for some time.

Since the beginning, the case has taken various turns and a court hearing in March was postponed in view of reports that the parents have filed for divorce. However, the parents denied this.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had taken up the matter with his Norwegian counterpart during the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul last month.

Singh had said India is keen to find an "amicable" and "good" solution to the custody battle of the two young Indian children within the ambit of the law.

India had been maintaining from the beginning that the children need to be sent back to the country.

(With PTI inputs)

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