India’s foreign minister on Tuesday urged Norway to return a five-year-old boy to his Indian-origin parents after authorities took the child into their custody over suspected abuse.
Sushma Swaraj said India’s ambassador would meet the Norwegian authorities later Tuesday to discuss the case, promising to take a “firm stand”.
The two countries had a major falling out in 2011, when Norwegian welfare authorities removed two young Indian children from their parents.
“I refuse to accept that foster parents can take better care of the child than the natural parents,” tweeted Swaraj, who said she was intervening on behalf of the boy’s mother, an Indian national. The father and the child are believed to be Norwegian nationals.
“The foster parents are totally ignorant of Indian culture and our food habits. We want restoration of Aryan to his natural parents,” Swaraj said in the tweet.
Indian media quoted the child’s father as saying Aryan had been removed from his school without warning on December 13 and was now living in a children’s home outside Oslo.
Police later went to the family home and interrogated his wife, accusing the couple of beating their son, the father said, calling the allegation “baseless”.
The 2011 case drew widespread media attention in India, much of it critical of the Norwegian authorities, and sparked a diplomatic row.
The family blamed it on cultural bias and different attitudes toward childcare.
The children eventually returned to India after the parents agreed they should be transferred to the custody of a relative.