Norway is an unobtrusively peacful country, so at peace that it makes hardly any headlines on the Newspapers. However in recent past it did make headlines on two occasions. One: when a young man started shooting indiscriminately against a student gathering and killed many young students. It was most tragic and the world mourned with Norway. The second incident is related to Norway's Child welfare society which did not make news all over the world but it made news in India, to the discredit of Norway
Norway is a country where child welfare is pathologically strict and the child protection service keeps an eye on every child. The school authorities reported to the child protection service about the boy. The agency began to visit Anurup Bhatacharya's house to check how their children are brought up.They questioned his wife on various aspects of their dealings with the children. In the end, after several visits, they concluded that the mother is not properly taking care of the children pointing out specifically that the elder one was still sleeping with the parents and that the mother was feeding children with bare hand. (i e, not using a spoon.)
When the child protection agencies find a case they think worthy for action, there is no waiting and the follow ups are quick. To the horror of the parents the child protection service took away both children to a foster home.and the parents were not allowed near the children. The younger baby girl was just 5 month old and was breast feeding by mother.
It was in last May and now 10 months have elapsed and the Norway authorities have neither restored the children to their parents nor is showing any inclination to do so.
In the meanwhile the Government allowed the couple to see their children for an hour. The poor mother could only weep near them when she saw them after several months and on seeing mother incessantly weeping the child protection people concluded that the mother was not mentally stable and not wise to leave the kids in her custody any more..
On the part of the Government of India the external affairs Ministry sent two letters to Norway and no reply was received. Now a special envoy has been sent to Norway to explain in person. It is the first time the Government is sending a special envoy for the cause of an individual.
In Norway the matter reached to court and it ruled to keep the children in two different foster homes until they are 18 years old. The parents are allowed to visit them once in a year for an hour. The interference of court in the matter has complicated things as the matters have slipped off from the hands of the Government to take a decision .The next court hearing is on 23rd March and a favourable verdict is expected
The foster homes in Norway are like the juvenile homes in India. The children with petty crimes or very bad behaviour are sent there and foster parents take care of them. In India children are not sent to juvenile homes without a court order and court orders to send children there are only for criminal offences.
Norway has, obviously, no idea about Indian day-to-day life and there is no ground to blame them on it. But the supreme lack of sensitivity by the Government and the court in sorting out the issue is highly objectionable. The court order virtually makes the children as orphans and their parents childless. The children ultimately would become two Norwegian kids without a root, mother tongue or tradition and they would grow up like Robots and the parents would virtually lose them for ever.
It appears that the Norwegians have no consideration for the parental care, family ties, mother tongue,or traditional customs with which one grows up. It is time Norway reviewed how the foster home life affect children's behavior in their later years and whether it has made any qualitative change in crime rate in the country or improved behavior and out look of its youngsters. Considering the manner in which they treat children I think Norway is in for a surprise if it made an honest review.
Epilogue : Now almost an year and several condemnations and diplomatic negotiations later the father of the children Anurup Bhattacharya has opened the lid of truth. He said his wife had 'psychological' problems and got violent often and that he did not reveal it at first in order to get the custody of children and the rethinking came now as he was living separately in Norway. He wants the children to live in Norway. The uncle is also on back foot to take charge of the children due to the complications in entrusting children with someone trustworthy. Therefore the release of children from child welfare society is likely to take time. The Government of India is investigating the entire issue again before taking any action.
The whole issue appeared unusual and even bizarre when it was first reported and a civilised State was appeared an abductor and spoiler of peaceful family life of its citizens. The full facts leading to the intervention of child welfare society in the matter were not available for the media. The facts have not yet been revealed like what was the nature of her psychiatric problems, the nature of elder son's behavior at school, their life inside the house etc. However fact remains that no mother can take this kind of ordeal and it sure might have affected her psyche.
All said, it should admitted that the child welfare people were cruel on her.
In the end after much heartburn the children were returned to the custody of its Indian relatives and were brought back to India. The court also agreed that it was better to grow the children in their native country.
1.12.12 A new case from Norway. This is also with regard to child welfare. One Chandrasehkar and his wife Aupama were arrested for reprimanding their son for wetting his pants in school bus or so .The child told that to his class teacher and the class teacher must have reported it to Child welfare. The parents arein Jail and their children live separately. The Government of India has intervened in it and perhaps it will be settled soon.