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Oslo jail scars for ‘abusive’ parents

Hyderabad, Dec. 19: Former TCS executive V. Chandrasekhar and wife Anupama, convicted last year in Norway of “serious child abuse” in tackling their seven-year-old son, are back home in Hyderabad after a year in jail.

“I am happy mom and dad are back,” Sai Sriram, around whom the case revolved and prompted diplomatic intervention, told reporters yesterday before his grandparents whisked him away.

Although New Delhi had raised the matter with Oslo, the Norwegian authorities had pleaded helplessness saying it was a judicial decree.

The Scandinavian nation has strict child protection laws and in this case, the complaint of parental abuse originated from Sriram’s school.

Back in Hyderabad, the return of the couple — Chandrasekhar came back a fortnight ago and Anupama in late September — has come as a relief to the techie’s parents with whom Sriram and his older sibling had been living while the couple served time.

But the reaction of Srilakshmi, Chandrasekhar’s mother, to journalists at their home in the Miyapur area here suggests the family hasn’t got over the ordeal.

“They (Chandrasekhar and Annapurna) are back and happy to be with their sons after a traumatic year. But no, you cannot meet them or the children. Let them recover,” said the lady in her sixties, rejecting requests to meet the couple.

The case had started from Sriram’s school where he told his teachers that his parents had threatened to send him to India for wetting pants.

The schoolteacher filed a complaint, prompting the Norwegian authorities to arrest the couple, who were also accused of “burning” the legs of their son and “hitting him with belts”.

The Norwegian court had viewed the matter as a grave offence, holding them guilty of gross or repeated maltreatment “by threats, violence or other wrong”.

“(The) Oslo district court has found the couple guilty on several counts of child abuse. In the view of the court, the couple deliberately burnt their son’s leg with a hot spoon or similar object with the result that the child had burn marks,” an official statement from Oslo had said then.

Chandrasekhar was sentenced to 18 months and Anupama to 15 months. The punishments were later reduced to a year and 11 months, respectively, after the couple sought leniency saying they wanted to be back with their children in India.

Chandrasekhar’s mother Srilakshmi said the past year had been traumatic. “We have gone through a very rough period. The children have suffered the most. So please leave us alone.”

Asked whether the children had joined a local school here, she said: “They continued their studies at home.” After Chandrasekhar returned to Hyderabad on December 4, the family recently went to the Tirumala temple and offered prayers.

But theirs wasn’t the only such case in Norway. Calcutta couple Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya were held guilty by a Norwegian court of not taking proper care of their children, Abhigyan and Aishwarya, and sent them to a childcare unit in 2011. Amid a public uproar, the Indian government took up the matter with Norway.

When the parents moved court in that country, where they had been living for several years, they were told that custody could be given to a near relation. The court later allowed, with the parents’ consent, Anurup’s brother Arunabhas keep the children with him at his home in Asansol.