Government criticizes Norway court decision, saying conviction will inflict mental agony on children

Last Updated: Tue, Dec 04, 2012 14:50 hrs

The government on Tuesday criticised the conviction of an Indian couple in Norway and said the verdict would cause serious mental agony to their children.

Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi told reporters here that the decision by the Norwegian court has put psychological pressure on the children, who are already asking their grandparents about the whereabouts of their parents,

"The problem is now more serious, because the children are here? They will be left in big agony psychologically as their parents have been jailed by that government. I don't say it is a crime, but it will cause more stress on the family," said Ravi.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has said that the couple has been in touch with the country's embassy in Norway for months. The Indian Embassy is providing counsellor assistance to the couple and would continue to render all possible assistance, even after delivery of the verdict.

"We have rendered them counsellor assistance previously when they were in touch with various Norwegian authorities and subsequently when they were detained our counsellor officer did go and meet them. After that also, some of the ladies from the Indian embassy have been in touch with Mrs. Anupama Vallabhaneni. Now that the verdict has come from that judicial process, our counsellor officer will get in touch with their lawyer to see how they intend to proceed on this matter further," said Syed Akbaruddin, MEA spokesperson.

Earlier, the court sentenced the father Chandrasekhar Vallabhaneni to 18 months and the mother Anupama to 15 months of imprisonment for alleged child abuse.

Norway Police have accused the couple, who hail from Andhra Pradesh, of gross and repeated maltreatment of their children through threats and violence.

Reacting to the issue, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said she and her party were astonished by the verdict.

"We are astonished, the BJP would demand that the MEA (Ministry of External Affairs) should talk to the Norway authorities that why do such extreme situations arrive."

"The ministry should look after the welfare of the children abroad and make sure that every help is extended to the parents," she added.

The charged family had denied the prosecutors' allegation that one of the two children had burn marks and scars and was beaten with a belt.

Vallabhaneni, a software engineer in software giant TCS, was deputed to Oslo 18 months ago to handle a project. he took his family along with him.

Two schoolteachers of the seven-year-old son had complained to the authorities about parental abuse.

This is the second case of child abuse row involving Indian parents in Norway. In May last year, Norway's Child Welfare Agency (CWA) took the children into their custody after deciding they were at risk whilst living with their parents in Norway.

The parents said the CWA decision was the result of cultural differences and also recalled that the CWA had objected to the children sleeping with their parents and being breast-fed at scheduled times as per traditional Indian norms.

The CWA had observed that the parents were not adequately looking after the children.

Norway's police arrested Chandrashekhar Vallabhaneni and his wife Anupama on November 26 over the issue of chiding their seven-year-old son, Sriram.

As per media reports, the couple has been charged with 'gross/repeated maltreatment' of their child by threats, violence/other wrong doing, under Section 219 of Norwegian law. (ANI)

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