New Delhi, Apr 24 - Two NRI children, who were kept in foster care by authorities in Norway for nearly a year, today arrived here to a warm welcome after a protracted legal battle and diplomatic pressure by India.
The children -- Abhigyan and Aishwarya-- accompanied by their foster father, were received at the Indira Gandhi International airport by their grandparents and Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur.
A Norwegian court yesterday handed over the two NRI children in foster care to their paternal uncle, ending months of custody row that saw India stepping up diplomatic pressure on Norway to send back the children, taken away by authorities their last year.
Welcoming the children, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna thanked Norway for their release, saying the children belonged to India.
"They belong to India. They are Indian nationals. I am confident that the uncle will take care of them in the environment of their extended family in India," he said. "I thank the government of Norway and in particular the foreign minister for his constructive approach in resolving this humanitarian issue. I wish to congratulate the judicial system in Norway for taking such an enlightened decision. All is well that ends well," Krishna said.
The children were taken away from their parents --Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya -- by Norway's Child Welfare Agency in May last year on grounds of "emotional disconnect".
However, the parents of the children have denied the charges saying it was a case of cultural misunderstanding. As the case received wide attention, the External Affairs Ministry mounted diplomatic pressure on Norway to release the kids.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had taken up the matter with his Norwegian counterpart during the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul last month.
After several twists and turns, the Stavanger District Court yesterday finally gave custody of Abhigyan (3) and Aishwarya (1) to their uncle Arunabhash Bhattacharya, supporting a joint application submitted by the children's parents and the CWS.
Officials of the Ministry of External Affairs and the Indian Embassy in Oslo were also present at the hearing. Kaur, who received the kids at the airport, expressed happiness over their return, saying "We are very happy to have them back in India." The children are likely to be taken to their family residence in Kolkata either today or tomorrow. PTI