`Two Indian kids in foster care not stateless`

Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said the kids were neither orphans nor stateless persons, and enjoyed protection of the Indian State.

Last Updated: Feb 23, 2012, 01:00 AM IST

New Delhi: An attempt by Norwegian authorities to keep two Indian children in foster care after expiry of their visa next month on Wednesday drew a sharp reaction from India which said the kids were neither orphans nor stateless persons, and enjoyed protection of the Indian State.

"... The children are neither orphans nor Stateless persons, and enjoy the protection of the Indian State and any request for extension of Residence Permit on their behalf should emanate from either the parents or the Indian State," Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said
here.

His terse comments follow reports that Norwegian officials were trying to keep the children one-year-old Aishwarya and three-year-old Abhigyan - there after their visas expire next month. The authorities have applied for
extension of visa by themselves.

"The government of India was made aware of the fact that the Norwegian authorities were seeking to extend the Residence Permits of the two young Indian children," Akbaruddin said.

The government "immediately conveyed its serious concerns regarding the manner in which this was done to the Norwegian Foreign Office, in Oslo as well as in New Delhi," he said.

The kids` parents, NRI couple Sagarika and Anurup Bhattacharya, were accused of negligence by the child welfare officials in Norway and the children were taken away from them last May and placed in foster care.

Akbaruddin said the Norwegian government was urged once again to expedite the process of return of the young children to India in view of the humanitarian dimension of the issue.

"It was underlined that India has strong legislative and institutional mechanism to protect the interests of children after their return to India," he said.

The fresh turn of events came nearly a month after Norwegian childcare authorities agreed to hand over the custody of the children to their Kolkata-based uncle, who is currently in Oslo.

PTI