An Indian couple in Norway is living in a nightmare after their children - a three-year-old son and one-year-old daughter - were taken away by Norwegian social workers. The couple lost custody of their children after the Norwegian Child Welfare Services said they were not bringing the children up properly.
Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya's children were taken to a foster home eight months ago because the parents were feeding their children with their hands and slept with their children in the same bed.
The Indian embassy in Oslo joined in the fight to regain custody of the Bhattacharya's children. An officer from the embassy even met the children at the foster home. The parents, however, were not allowed to meet. The extremely drastic measure of splitting the family has forced the Indian government to step in and contact their counterparts in Oslo.
My son was sleeping with my husband. They said he should sleep separately from your son, Sagarika Bhattacharya told NDTV news.
They told me why are you sleeping with the children in the same bed? (I told them) this is also a purely cultural issue. We never leave the children in another room and say goodnight to them, Anurup Bhattacharya told NDTV.
Feeding a child with the hand is normal in Indian tradition and when the mother is feeding with a spoon there could be phases when she was over-feeding the child. They said it was force feeding. These are basically cultural differences, he added.
Norway's Child Protective Service is a powerful body that protects the rights of children living in difficult families. However, the service has, in the past, come under scrutiny for excessive interventions.
There has been a report in UN in 2005 which criticized Norway for taking too many children in public care. The amount was 12,500 children and Norway is a small country, said a lawyer Svein Kjetil Lode Svendsen.
The couple, whose visa expires in March, said if they don't get back their children they will be forced to stay in Norway against their will.