Norway to hand custody row children to uncle in India

Abhigyan Bhattacharya and Aishwariya Bhattacharya
Image caption The children were put into foster care by Norwegian child services last May

A Norwegian court has ruled that two Indian children in foster care in Norway should be handed over to their uncle and allowed to return to India.

Norway's Child Welfare Agency (CWA) said it took the children into custody last May because the parents did not adequately look after the children.

However, the parents said that "cultural differences" were behind the agency's decision.

The incident has caused a diplomatic row between Norway and India.

Three-year-old Abhigyan and one-year-old Aishwariya Bhattacharya were put in foster care by the CWA after local social services said the children were at risk.

However the parents, Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya, who were living in Norway at the time, denied this.

They said that there were "cultural differences" the authorities took exception to, including sleeping with the children and feeding them by hand.

Following discussions, the CWA has reached an agreement with the parents and the children's uncle.

Custody of the children will be transfered to the uncle, enabling them to return to India.

The CWA had spent three months evaluating the uncle's suitability before recommending that he take custody of the children, India's NDTV newschannel reported.

In a statement, the Stavanger district court in Norway said that allowing the uncle to raise the children would "help make up for the parents' shortcomings in terms of childcare".

The court hearing was originally scheduled for 23 March, but delayed following media reports of "marital problems" between the parents.

The case has received extensive media attention in India and provoked public anger, with the Indian government saying that the children should be allowed to live in their own cultural and linguistic environment.

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