Hyderabad: A court in Norway sent to jail an Indian couple from Andhra Pradesh on charges of maltreatment of their child, shocking their family members, who termed the judgment one-sided. India said it was in touch with the couple through its embassy and will provide them with consular assistance.
Chandrasekhar Vallabhaneni, an employee of Tata Consultancy Service (TCS) on deputation to Oslo, and his wife Anupama were convicted for gross or repeated maltreatment of their child/children by threats, violence or other wrong.
The Oslo District Court sentenced Chandrasekhar to 18 months and his wife to 15 months in jail.
"In the view of the Court, the couple deliberately burned their son's leg with a hot spoon or similar object with the result that the child had burn marks measuring approximately 3x5 centimetres," said a statement on Norway's official website.
The Court also found that "it had been proven that the parents had on several occasions hit the child with a belt or similar object and that they had on one occasion threatened to burn their son on his tongue with a hot spoon".
The external affairs ministry said in New Delhi that it was in touch with the couple and their families. "We are providing consular assistance," an official of the ministry said, adding: "It is a difficult time for the couple and family involved."
Shocked over the judgment, the family members termed the verdict "one-sided" as the court did not take into account the issues raised by the couple, including the report sent by a psychiatrist from here.
The parents of Chandrasekhar and Anupama, broke down on hearing the news of their conviction.
The child was reprimanded for wetting his pants in the school bus, according to Chandrasekhar's nephew V. Sailendra, who is in Hyderabad.
"There was no response to our concerns. We came to know that the court did not take into account the points raised by our lawyer. This is not a digestible situation," Sailendra told reporters at their residence in Miyapur.
"We have the option of appealing in a higher court and we will exercise that option," he added. The couple's children -- seven-year-old Sai Sriram and his two-year-old younger brother -- are living with their grandparents at Miyapur.
"Our biggest worry is how to handle the children because they are inquiring about their parents. They want to know because newspapers and television channels are carrying their pictures," said another family member.
Sailendra said both the children were depressed and they were sending regular reports to the Oslo police about their health condition.
"What kind of justice is this? This verdict has separated the children from their parents. The children can't live without them. The two-year-old is very attached to them and he needs their care," he said.
The family alleged that the authorities in Norway have blown the issue out of proportion when Sriram had told his school teacher that the parents chided him for bed-wetting.
Psychiatrist Kalyan Chakravarthi, in his report sent to Oslo court, said he had several sessions of counselling with the boy, whom he described as a 'mild to moderate' case of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (APHD) but showing positive signs till the situation turned awry with the arrest of his parents.
Originally hailing from Krishna district in coastal Andhra, Chandrasekhar with his family returned home in July this year. He and his wife again left for Norway Nov 23, leaving behind both children.
The family members said the couple had gone to Norway in response to the summons issued by the Oslo court. "They wanted to close the case and clear their name before returning to India. They did not expect things to take this ugly turn," said a family member.
The incident comes months after another row involving an Indian couple and their children in Norway.
Norway's Child Welfare Agency (CWA) had taken three-year-old Abhigyan and one-year-old Aishwariya Bhattacharya into custody in May 2011 alleging their parents did not look after them properly.
The Indian government had taken up the case strongly.