'Our grandkids are traumatised in an alien enviroment'
Grandparents of the two children now growing up in a foster home in Norway demand that they be allowed to return to India.
The grandparents of the two Indian children Avigan and Aishwariya Bhattacharya, who were taken by the Norwegian Child Protection Services in May last year and have been since kept in foster care, on Monday took their protests to the streets. Accompanied by family members, the anguished grandparents started a four-day protest against the Norwegian authorities in New Delhi.
They gathered opposite the Chankyapuri police station, which is close to the Norway embassy, holding photographs of three-year-old Avigan and one-year-old Aishwariya and demanded that the children be send to their home in India even as New Delhi sent a special envoy to Oslo to speed up the process of handing them over to their uncle.
While the visas of the parents and the children expire on March 8, the visas of the latter could be extended by the Norwegian authorities so that they could be kept at the foster home. Rather than extending the visas, Norway can hasten the legal process so that the children can return to their home, demanded the family.
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Image: Family members of the Avigan and Aishwariya Bhattacharya at the protest in New Delhi
'Avigan is very scared; he had started sleeping under the bed'
The parents of the two children have been accused of "gross negligence". This led to losing the kids to an activist child welfare services system in Stavanger, Norway, in May last yeat. The parents have insisted that the reason for the Norwegian authorities taking their children away is cultural differences, a charge Norway has rejected.
"We want that our children should be sent back to us," said Avigan and Aishwariya's grandfather Ajay Bhattacharya. His wife Krishna said, "Our grandchildren are feeling traumatised in an alien environment. They are very young and are troubled because they don't see their parents around."
"The foster couple who is taking care of the children told to the lower court that Avigan was so scared that he had started sleeping under the bed. The kids were used to sleeping with their father," she sighed.
Image: Ajay and Krishna Bhattacharya, the grandparents of the children, outside the Norway embassy
'We can take care of them very well. Please send them back'
Bhattacharya added, "We can take care of them very well. Please send them back to us."
The Norwegian authorities had initially agreed on letting Arunabhash, the children's maternal uncle, have their custody. But there has been no confirmation on it yet.
"They want him (Arunabhash) to undergo psychological tests, and other tests to see if he is capable of raising children," said Bhattacharya.
Senior leader of Bhartiya Janta Party Sushma Swaraj and Brinda Karat of the Communist Party of India-Marxist spoke to the grandparents and family members, and extended support to them. "The children have been placed in foster care when there has been no crime registered against the parents. This is just not acceptable," they said.
A few school children also joined the protests later on Tuesday. Students from Springdales and Vinay Nagar Bengali Senior Secondary School signed a huge white canvas asking the Norwegian authorities to send back the children. This canvas would be sent to the Norway embassy.
Image: Students join the dharna in New Delhi