What can we call it? Shall we call it cultural difference? Is any culture greater than humanity? On the other hand, is it some form of political move? Well, I never understood the crap of politics anyway. Can we call it barbarism? Surely, barbarism has some bounds! Or, has it?
Anurup Bhattacharya, moved to Norway six years earlier to take up his job as a geologist in Halliburton. In 2007 he married Sagarika Bhattacharya and the couple was happily settled in Stavanger, Norway with their three year old son Abhigyan and four months old daughter Aiswariya.
But the couple’s happiness was short lived when their children were forcibly taken under protective custody by Barnevernet, the Norwegian Child Welfare Services. The reason for this force protection was shown by Barnevernet as incapability of taking proper care of the children by the parents. And what was the basis of such accusation? The Barnevernet had observed that Mrs. Bhattacharya used to feed her children by her hand. That, as per The Child Welfare Services is force feeding. Also, she used to breast feed her four months year old daughter which again was not permitted. Thirdly, the three year old son used to sleep with his father on the same bed. This is not again permitted since, as per govt. regulations, the children should sleep in a separate room from their parents. And of course, Barnevernet officials have observed that four months old Aishwariya looks up on the faces of others rather than her mother which surely indicates, as per them, that the mother is incapable of taking proper care of the infant. On May 11, 2011 , Abhigyan was picked up from his Kindergarten unbeknown to his parents whereas, Aiswariya was forcibly taken into custody from her mother from their residence. They are to be kept in Norwegian Govt. custody through care homes or foster parents till they are 18. The parents can meet their children only twice a year till they are adults.
The couple has been knocking every door since then to get back the custody of their kids. They had gone to the local police authorities when their children were forced into protective custody. They tried to make officials understand the cultural differences between Indian and Norwegian families and upbringing. They have told multiple times to multiple people that we, at India, often hand feed our children and our kids sleep with us on the same bed. The couple moved to lower court to get back the custody of their kids, but the Barnevernet appealed to the court and the verdict went against the couple. The grandparents of the children had earlier approached Ms. Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of Bengal and on 21st January, 2012 they met the president of India, Ms. Pratibha Patil to get back the custody of the children and in return have received assurances to look into the matter. Understand that Indian Foreign Minister, Mr. S. M. Krishna has met with Norwegian officials on 22nd January to discuss about the matter but outcomes of this meeting are still unknown.
The Barnevernet had previously and is continuing to split minority families in Norway. As per African Press International “http://africanpress.me/2006/11/07/barnevernet-the-norwegian-child-protection-agency-must-stop-splitting-minority-families-in-norway/” Barnevernet officials forcibly split children from minority families in Norway and the kids have to painfully endure the adoption of a foreign culture and atmosphere. These children are then placed under foster Norwegian families uprooted from the culture which is important for them. These foster families receive about half a million kroner per year from the Norwegian Govt. to take care of the child they are rearing. Often these Norwegian families who are used by Barnevernet to adopt the foster kids resign from their normal jobs to take up the lucrative job of rearing of adoptive children.
Coming back to Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya, the couple is presently endearing hell every moment of their life detached from their kids. Their visa will expire in March 2012 and after that they will be forced to return to India. Norwegian Govt. may declare the kids as orphans / deserted after that and getting back the custody of the kids will fade forever. Repeated pleas to the authorities have not yielded any fruitful results and the authorities have informed that they are still deciding on the future of the children. The Norwegian Authorities have also suggested the couple to split and they in turn may return the custody of the kids to their father.
The above incident struck my mind along with my heart. My heart as a father pained when I thought how a couple can live month after month when their children are abducted (I call it abducted since they were forcibly and unknowingly separated from their parents – Norwegian Barnevernet surely differs from my point of view) and kept with some people who are culturally as far as Atlantis is from Africa. Also in my mind I tried to understand whether this is due to some cultural difference or a political motivated step or simply an act of barbarism. Even if there were some shortcomings on behalf of the parents was there no way to give them another chance? Or The Norwegian Govt. could have tried to bridge the cultural gap by taking a step forward and relaxing some of their adamant rules? Whatever it is, below I give some information I found on the Internet.
As a human being and a parent I request the Barnevernet to release the children from their agony and return them to the custody of their parents. I also invite everybody to second the voice and leave their comments on the blog.
Disclaimer: None of the above information is mine. I have only collected the same from the Internet.
Copyright: All the photographs used belongs to their respective copyright owners.