India on Monday stepped up the pressure on Norway for the release of two children of an NRI couple but the Norwegian government while hoping of an "acceptable" settlement refused to give any time frame for it.
External affairs minister SM Krishna spoke to his Norwegian counterpart and summoned their Charge d'Affairs Aslak Brun to reiterate India's concerns over the separation of two children from their natural parents by the Norwegian Childcare Services which placed them under foster care.
"Given the children's very young age, removal from the care of their natural parents and to be placed in foster care till they turn eighteen is an extreme step which should normally be a last resort. The circumstances as known to the Indian government do not appear to justify such measures in the present case," Krishna told reporters.
He said he has requested the Norwegian government to find an "amicable and urgent solution" in the matter. He also said that CPI-M leader Brinda Karat has also talked to him regarding the issue.
However, the minister did admit that there was a "problem" since the matter was before the Norway Court and the Norwegian judicial system was seized of the matter and therefore, it has to be settled through Indian mission and other stakeholders.
After his meeting with Krishna, Brun said, "We have a very close and good dialogue and both the governments have best interest of the children at heart.
"Through this constructive and close dialogue, we are very hopeful we will have settlement that will be both acceptable within Norwegian legal system and also in accordance with the legitimate concerns of the Indian government. However, he parried questions on the time frame.
When asked if the issue could be resolved before the expiry of the visa of the parents of Abhigyan (3) and Aishwarya (1) who were taken away by Barnevarne (Norwegian Child Welfare Services) claiming emotional disconnect, Krishna said he was hopeful that it can be worked out.
"Let me emphasise, we have very cordial bilateral relations with Norway and they are ready to accommodate Indian government within their jurisdiction and if it is a visa issue, it can be worked out," he said.
Meanwhile, Barnevarne has sought concrete details on January 20 regarding how the children will be looked after, who in the extended family would be the children's primary care giver and how Indian authorities will follow up the matter and ensure that the children's needs are met.