HAF Encouraged by Meeting with Norwegian Ambassador to U.S.

Washington, D.C. (January 26, 2012) -- The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) was encouraged by its meeting yesterday with the Norwegian Ambassador to the U.S., Wegger Chr. Strømmen, regarding the removal of two young children from an Indian family in Norway.
 
After initial media reports indicated that the two children were removed from parents, Sagarika and Anurup Bhattacharya, by Norway’s Child Protective Services for purportedly feeding their children with their hands and letting the children sleep in the same bed as them, HAF wrote directly to the Norwegian Embassy in Washington, D.C. and started an online petition to address the issue. The Norwegian Embassy subsequently invited HAF’s Washington, D.C. based Associate Director, Jay Kansara, to meet with Ambassador Strømmen.
 
"We are grateful to Ambassador Strømmen for taking the time to meet with us and address our concerns and inquiries regarding the status of the Bhattacharya children,” explained Kansara. “Although the Ambassador was unable to reveal the details of the case while it is still pending, he indicated that he was encouraged by the open discussions and communication between all parties involved. HAF will continue to monitor the situation and stay in touch with the Embassy."
 
HAF leaders also expressed satisfaction with the results of the Change.org online campaign and petition, which generated over 6,000 signatures, in a matter of days, from around the world.
 
"The online petition, which is now closed, has been a huge success in generating greater awareness about this issue and opening a constructive dialogue with the Norwegian Embassy,” said Sheetal Shah, HAF’s Senior Director. “We remain optimistic that there will be a positive resolution to this case.”
 
The latest media reports suggest that an agreement has been reached between the Indian and Norwegian governments allowing the children to return to India and live with their uncle, Arunabhas Bhattacharya.
 
But even as of this morning, the Norwegian Embassy is still unable to confirm such an agreement.