The custody battle over two Indian children taken from their parents — Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya — by Norwegian authorities headed for further uncertainty as an agreement on handing them over to their uncle fell apart on Thursday.
Amid open discord between the parents, Norwegian child welfare authorities said they were cancelling the deal in view of “conflicts” in the family. They said they would explore “new solutions” to the problem.
“In the light of the great uncertainty that now prevails, the child welfare services (CWS) cannot maintain that a move to India would be in the best interests of the children,” CWS chief Gunnar Toresen said in a statement.
“The situation has turned complicated. I'm desperately trying to get a grip on the situation. I can’t comment more at this stage,” a frustrated Anurup told HT from Norway.
The CWS's belief is that an acceptable agreement would require the mother be disallowed access to the children —Abhigyan, 3, and Aishwarya, 1.
Reports say the Norwegians concluded — on the basis of several months’ of home visits and videotaped evidence — the mother was mentally disturbed and prone to violence. This situation was compounded by the fact that the son was a special needs child whose condition was being aggravated by Sagarika's condition.
Over the last few days, both parents and the children's uncle, who lives in India and was to get the custody, “have changed their position several times on the agreement that had originally been reached. This has caused the CWS to doubt their motives as far as the agreement is concerned”, Toresen said.
The agreement, under which Anurup’s brother Arunabhash was to get the custody, was scheduled for a Friday hearing at the Stavanger town court. It was cancelled after Sagarika and Anurup fell out publicly.
The latter accused the former of physically attacking him on Monday.
Arunabhash, who is in Stavanger, had told media he was concerned about a custody battle in India. He had earlier indicated the children seemed to be doing well with their foster parents, Norwegians of Indian origin.
Sagarika's father denied she suffered mental problems and, instead, accused the husband of abusing her. “Today Sagarika signed the agreement papers and decided to come back to India,” said Monotosh Chakraborty, a resident of Birati on the southern fringes of Kolkata.
Anurup used to beat her up and had even driven her out of their house, he said.
“Sagarika does not suffer any psychological disorder. At least the report of the doctor who examined my daughter stated this.” The charges were a deep-rooted conspiracy to separate her from her grandchildren,” he said.