Norway foster care row becomes Indian theatre

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Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya with one of their children shown on Indian TV. Photo: Screen Grab
21:21 CEST+02:00
The bitter battle of an Indian couple to recover two children forcibly taken into care by Norway's authorities has been made into a stage play that will premier in the Indian city of Chennai on Saturday.

The Tamil play Veyli is based on the story of the two Indian children, who were taken into care in Norway because of what their parents claimed were "cultural differences".

Set in modern day America, the play 'Veyli' is about cultural and social attitudes towards children, and how they can result in legal and punitive measures. 

"It should not be seen only in the light of what happened to a Bengali family, it should be seen as what happened to an Indian family,"  Amsan Kumar told the Times of India newspaper. "The same thing can happen to a Tamil couple. So I tried not to lose the national element in the play." 

Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya, the couple whose two children were seized aged one and three, said that the authorities had disapproved of them feeding their children with their hands and sleeping in the same bed with them.

Gunnar Toresen, head of Child Welfare Services in Stavanger, who was unable to  comment on the particular case told the BBC at the time that they have "a responsibility to intervene if measures at the home are not sufficient to meet a child's needs".

"Examples are when there is every probability that the child's health or development may be seriously harmed because the parents are incapable of taking adequate responsibility for their child."

The case of the two children, who were eventually returned to relatives in India, is not unique. In a string of highly publicised cases, the Norwegian Child Welfare Services have been accused of being culturally insensitive when taking children of foreign nationals into care.  

Kumar feels that Veyli, that is based on a Bengali play called Palok, deals with important issues of cultural and the trauma of losing a child.  

"Many plays are based on novels and short stories. 'Veyli' is topical mainly because it deals with a very contemporary issue that no one has ever brought to light," he told The Times of India.

Veyli will be staged at the Alliance Française in Chennai on September 19.

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