Child panel gives Norway kids’ mother their custody
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The dispute involving two young siblings who were at the centre of a diplomatic row between India and Norway earlier this year took another turn on Thursday as the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) of Burdwan in West Bengal passed an interim order restoring the children to their mother.
However, when a seven-member team of the CWC approached the Kulti police in Burdwan district for help to secure Abhighyan (4) and Aishwarya (2), the police refused. Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police, Asansol, Subrata Gangopadhay, said the police would have to confirm from the government whether the Norway court, that had given the children's custody to the brother of their father, or the CWC was higher.
In May 2011, the Norwegian Child Welfare Services (NCWS) had taken the children away from the parents, living in Norway, saying the mother was unfit to take care of them and put them in foster care. Following diplomatic pressure, the children had been handed over to the family in April 2012. The NCWS and the children's parents, Sagarika Chakraborty and Anurup Bhattacharya, had agreed before a Norwegian court that the custody of the children would be with their paternal uncle in India. The children have since then been living with their grandparents in Kulti.
Questioning the police decision to not help CWC, Chakraborty said: "The CWC has all powers and they have investigated that my children love me and I am fit to take care of them." Chakraborty had moved the CWC in June.
In its order on Thursday, the CWC said: "We have found the mother to be fit to take care of the children and their foster carer to have failed in his duties towards the children. The care of Abhigyan and Aishwarya is governed by Indian law by virtue of their residence in India... Under Indian law, foster care is a temporary measure." It added that it could review its order after the children start living with the mother.
CWC Member Sikha Sarkar told The Indian Express that police could invite disciplinary action for not following its orders. "The CWC is the final court in juvenile matters," she said.