An Indian couple in Norway has accused the country’s child welfare agency of forcibly taking custody of their five-and-a-half-year-old son, on the basis of a “fabricated complaint” alleging child abuse, The Indian Express reported. The Indian government said it was aware of the development, while Bharatiya Janata Party member Vijay Jolly said he had met Norwegian officials to plead their case. The boy’s father, Anil Kumar, is the former vice president of the Overseas Friends of BJP organisation.
Kumar said, “Norway’s child welfare department took custody of my son from his kindergarten school on December 13. They did not give us prior information. On the same same day, four policemen took my wife into custody and interrogated her,” The Indian Express reported.
Kumar owns an Indian restaurant in the country. “I have never even raised my voice at him, how can I beat him up? His mother spent sleepless nights taking care of him as he is an asthma patient. How can we physically hurt our beloved son?”
In a letter to Norway’s ambassador to India, Jolly is believed to have said that disciplining children was a “universal practice” in Asia, and should not be considered as a case of child abuse, The Times of India reported.
External Affairs Ministry Sushma Swaraj has sought a report on the matter from the Indian ambassador to Norway. Her ministry officials said authorities at the Indian Embassy in Oslo had spoken to Kumar and extended their full support to him, PTI reported. The officials said Kumar had informed the mission that he had hired a lawyer to represent him in the case.
This is the third such case in a span of five years in Norway. In 2011, two toddlers were taken into the Norwegian government’s custody under similar circumstances. The former United Progressive Alliance government intervened in the matter to facilitate the children’s release.
In 2012, a Norwegian court convicted an Indian couple in a child abuse case with a prison term and had the children sent to their grandparents’ home in Hyderabad.