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Norway to hand over Indian children to uncle

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10:49 CEST+02:00
Norwegian social workers, embroiled in an international row after removing two Indian children from their parents, said on Friday they had decided to place the children with their uncle in India.

A court is to make a final ruling on the decision on April 17th.

"If the court decides that the children should be removed from the care of the public authorities, the agreement can be implemented as soon as practicable," Gunnar Toresen, head of the Child Welfare Service in Stavanger, said in a statement.

"The uncle will then take over care of the children and take them back to India," he added.

Child services said they reversed an earlier decision against handing over the children to their uncle after further talks with him.

"The uncle was... concerned that he would not have sufficient support and assistance with the care of the children on return to India. The situation is now different. The true basis for the case has now been made known in India, and he feels that he now has strong support there," Toresen said.

The two children, aged one and three, were removed from their parents in May by the child welfare services, which deemed they were not receiving proper care, but refused to give more details, citing confidentiality.

The parents, Norwegian residents Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya, have rejected the allegations and initially claimed on Indian television that Norwegian authorities objected to their feeding the children by hand and sharing the same bed -- common practices in India where they are seen as part of the bonding between mother and child.

The father, Anurup, later changed his story, telling Indian media: "It was not just cultural bias that prompted the CWS (child welfare service) to act. My wife has a serious psychological problem."

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