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Delhi to wait for mom's request on Norway child

Civil rights groups have requested external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj to intervene in the case of a five-year-old boy of Indian origin who has been separated from his parents by Norwegian authorities on the ground that they allegedly beat him up.

By Our Bureau
  • Published 25.12.16
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New Delhi, Dec. 24: Civil rights groups have requested external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj to intervene in the case of a five-year-old boy of Indian origin who has been separated from his parents by Norwegian authorities on the ground that they allegedly beat him up.

The boy is the third Indian-origin child taken away from their parents by Norway's child welfare authorities since 2011 and, as in the previous cases, the Indian government has stepped in to try and assist the parents.

But the latest case is more complex than the others from the standpoint of India's potential to intervene, Indian officials said.

The child's father, Anil Kumar Sharma, is a Norwegian citizen and has lived in that country for 26 years. The child too is a Norwegian citizen. Sharma has already hired a Norwegian lawyer, who is representing the parents in court.

The only rationale the Indian government may have to intervene is the nationality of the child's mother, who retains her Indian passport.

But the mother has to formally seek the Indian government's representation - a situation that may duplicate legal proceedings already being pursued by the father.

"Given the seriousness of the issue, should we receive a formal representation from the mother, who, as you know, is an Indian national, the embassy remains fully prepared to engage with the local authorities to impress upon them that this is a humanitarian issue and the separation of a child from its parents is a matter of distress to the entire family," foreign ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said yesterday.

In their letter to Sushma, the civil rights groups have said that on many occasions, "the allegations of the Norwegian authorities about the parents have turned out to be either distortions or outright falsehoods, and children once returned to their families have been doing very well, showing that their removal was both cruel and unwarranted".

Sushma tweeted yesterday that she had asked the Indian ambassador in Norway to "take up" the issue of the five-year-old child "at his level and keep me posted".

The foreign office confirmed that the Indian ambassador in Oslo, Debraj Pradhan, had spoken to the child's father.

But Norway has stressed caution against concluding that the child was being ill-treated by its authorities.

The child, the Norwegian embassy has said in a statement, was taken from his parents under the Norwegian Child Welfare Act that aims "to ensure that the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration".

"Since child welfare cases are highly sensitive, the cases are therefore subject to a strict duty of confidentiality," the Norwegian embassy said. "The embassy, therefore, requests restraint and assures that the Norwegian authorities are dealing with the case with complete sensitivity and awareness."

When the Indian government had ensured the union of two children with their parents in Norway in 2011, all four had been Indian nationals on work visas - a status that empowered the Indian government to intervene.