New Delhi, Feb 22: Reacting strongly to attempts by Norwegian authorities to extend the Residence Permits of two Indian children in foster care there, India today told Norway that they are neither orphans nor stateless persons, and enjoy the protection of the Indian State.
“The Government of India was made aware of the fact that the Norwegian authorities were seeking to extend the Residence Permits of the two young Indian children... The Government immediately conveyed its serious concerns regarding the manner in which this was done to the Norwegian Foreign Office, in Oslo as well as in New Delhi,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said here.
New Delhi's terse response came following reports that Norwegian officials were trying to keep the children there after their visas expire next month. The authorities have applied for extension of visa by themselves.
Indian couple Sagarika and Anurup Bhattacharya have been accused of negligence by the child welfare officials in Norway and their two children - one-year-old Aishwarya and three-year-old Abhigyan - were taken away from them last May and placed in foster care.
Akbaruddin said that “it was pointed out that the children are neither orphans nor Stateless persons, and enjoy the protection of the Indian State and any request for extension of Residence Permit on their behalf should emanate from either the parents or the Indian State”.
He said the Norwegian Government was urged once again to expedite the process of return of the young children to India in view of the humanitarian dimension of the issue.
“It was underlined that India has strong legislative and institutional mechanism to protect the interests of children after their return to India,” he said.
The fresh turn of events came nearly a month after Norwegian childcare authorities agreed to hand over the custody of the children to their Kolkata-based uncle, who is currently in Oslo.