Children Sent Back From Norway: 'They do not go to sleep before I sing to them'

Norway child caseSagarika with her children Aishwarya and Abhigyan. (IE photo)

The title song of a popular Bengali TV serial based on the travails of a mother is playing on a laptop. Two children, a boy and a girl, are glued to it. As their mother reaches forward to play something else, they grab the mouse, stopping her from doing so.

As she smiles at them indulgently, Sagarika Chakraborty admits to having heard of the Devyani Khobragade case, where an Indian diplomat based in New York has found herself in conflict with the law of a foreign country. It was under similar circumstances that her two children were taken away from her husband and her by the Norway Child Welfare Services, which accused them of ill-treating the kids.

Abhigyan, 5, and Aishwarya, 3, were kept in foster care for about a year, with the parents accused of ill-treating the children. The CWS objected to, among other things, Abhigyan and Aishwarya sleeping with their parents and the way they were fed. Sagarika, officials said, was not equipped to look after her children. Following protests by the Indian government, the children were sent to India on April 24, 2012, and given into the care of her husband's brother Arunabhash. What followed was a custody battle between Sagarika and husband Anurup.

On January 10, 2013, it will be a year that Sagarika has had custody of Abhigyan and Aishwarya, following an interim order of the Calcutta High Court verdict. Anurup lives and works in Norway. Arunabhash refused to speak about the case.

At their maternal grandparents' house in Birati — a suburb to the north of Kolkata — the children have settled in, says Sagarika. An MBA, she now stays at home, looking after the children, dropping them to school, taking them for their drawing classes and to play at the local park, and helping them with their homework. A tutor gives extra lessons to Aishwarya.

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