NEW DELHI: India Monday conveyed to Norway that it should work out a settlement with the immediate family of two kids who are now under foster care on the orders of a local court there.
External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, who spoke to his Norwegian counterpart earlier in the day, told reporters that he has come to the conclusion after the talks that a reasonable settlement can be worked out, though the Indian government was anxious that a solution be found at the earliest.
"This (settlement) has to be worked out with the immediate family of the children," Krishna said when asked if any other solution to the vexed issue was acceptable to the Indian government.
Three-year-old Abhigyan and one-year-old Aishwarya, children of Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya, an NRI couple living in Stavanger, Norway, were taken under protective care by Barnevarne (Norwegian Child Welfare Services) in May on grounds that they were not looked after properly by their parents.
Barnevarne has placed them in foster parental care as per the directive of the local Norwegian court, mandated under Norwegian laws.
"But after my talks with the local embassy and with the Norwegian foreign minister, I have come to this conclusion that a reasonable settlement of this issue can be worked out. Our anxiety is it should be worked out at the earliest so that the children are brought back to the protective umbrella of their biological parents and grandparents," Krishna said.
"But I don't think after my talks with my counterpart in Norway that taking into consideration the kind of relationship we have between the two governments, it should be difficult for us to work out a settlement," he added.
Pointing to the child care mechanism in India, Krishna said: "We have a fairly legitimate institutional mechanism to protect the rights of the children. We can always use that in order to protect the rights of the children."
Asked about the visa of the couple that is likely to end in the first week of March this year, the external affairs minister said in view of the healthy relationship that the two countries had, Norway was willing to accommodate the Indian government to the extent possible within the limits of jurisdiction.
"If there are visa issues, I think it can be worked out," he said.
"The point to be noted and understood is that a court is seized of the matter in Norway and on the orders of that court the children are in the foster care unit in Norway. Hence when the courts are involved, we have to work through the courts on this issue," he added.
India has over the last two months issued a couple of strong demarche to Norway on its decision to separate the two Indian children from their NRI parents and conveyed that it felt it was "an extreme step and unjustified".
Bhattacharya and his wife have been appealing to the Indian government for help in getting their children back. As the matter is sub-judice, the external affairs ministry has also advised Bhattacharya to take suitable legal recourse.