The Indian Bollywood film about Norwegian child protection, and the child protection case it is based on

Written by Marianne Haslev Skånland, Professor Emeritus

It has been planned for several years, and has now finally been produced: a film based on a child protection case from 2011 onwards, a case in which an Indian couple’s two children were taken by the Norwegian CPS, called Barnevernet, in Stavanger. The film sounds, from the info I’ve been given and have seen, as though it’s pretty realistic.

The real case had many details and elements that have been misrepresented by Norwegian CPS and also by others. The children’s mother was scandalously treated by the child protection services, and unfortunately the children’s father eventually turned against her, unjustifiably, and almost campaigned for the CPS. This is NOT a case of a mother making up false claims or trying to make life miserable for her husband to get her way. Rather, it is a case that many people recognize: Child protection services burden the family with unreasonableness and horrors which ultimately cause the marriage to break up.

Many details about how the case ran are known and some of them are found in writing, in articles and documents. It would all of it be too much to have to write about all this (again), or to try effectively to counter all the distortions, falsehoods and misrepresentations that are resurfacing now, just as they have in the past, about the way the case evolved and the children’s development then and later. The central accusation from the CPS, the one they always make in Norwegian courts and which the Norwegian people bow to in respect, was the quack diagnosis of Sagarika: that she had a mental disorder and had also caused an ‘attachment disorder’ in the children – they ‘were not attached to their mother (in a healthy way)’. But the CPS made various other claims as well. They find it easy now to say that these allegations either did not exist or were not the reason why the children were taken. This is what the CPS usually says in child protection cases when there is criticism.

Now that the film is coming, the story is moving again, with the same false claims from the then head of the CPS in Stavanger, Gunnar Toresen, and now also from the children’s father. And these incorrect claims are allowed by Norwegian newspaper journalists to be served up unchallenged. I am adding links at the bottom of this article to a few articles which, among other things, contain significant inaccuracies. Feel free to read them, but you should not believe anything without checking it with those who know the matter and preferably Sagarika and the family in India, and especially with those who were active in obtaining and publishing correct information.

There are two people who more than anyone should have respect and admiration in this matter: they are Sagarika’s parents. They did not allow themselves to be fooled by prejudice or power, did not allow themselves to be overwhelmed or imagine all the malicious filth that was hurled at their daughter, but welcomed her with open arms when she in deep despair and after near torture in Norway succeeded in getting home, and they helped her faithfully in the years that followed. The children’s lives and development became very good from the time when she got them home. And they are definitely ‘attached to’ their mother!

I have found some of the articles and posts that some of us wrote and received at the time, and have added links to them. The most important is the case report prepared by Indian experts in 2012: “The confiscation of the Bhattacharya children by Norwegian authorities – a case study”.

Signatories to the Petition to the Indian National Human Rights Commission: 
The confiscation of the Bhattacharya children by Norwegian authorities – a case study – 
(12 October 2012)

Marianne Haslev Skånland:
Norwegian CPS attacks an Indian family
The Bhattacharya case in Stavanger
(January 27 – February 1, 2012)

Times Now:
“NHR Connect: Cultural ignorance or arrogance?” (Part 1)
YouTube video interview with parents 8 months after children were taken
(January 2012)

Modern Times Article
Deprived of the children – siblings split
(January 2012)

Forum Redd Våre Barn:
Photos of Indians in Kolkata demonstrating against the Norwegian CPS’s confiscation of those two children. Some 6,000 people took part
(Early 2012)

Norwegian CPS still keeps the Indian children isolated from their family
(February 2012)

Marianne Haslev Skånland:
Norwegian “child protection service” and the children’s uncle
(The India/Stavanger case)
(11 February 2012)

Marianne Haslev Skånland:
The curious case of ‘child protection’ in Norway
(April 2012)

Siv Westerberg: 
Norway and Sweden – where inhuman rights prevail
(7 May 2012, 11 November 2017)

Suranya Aiyar: 
Understanding and Responding to Child Confiscation by Social Service Agencies
(9 May 2012, 20 September 2017)

Petition: Indians want government to guard against CPS
(October 2012)

Marianne Haslev Skånland:
Good news in India for the children in the Bhattacharya case
(10 January 2013)

“Finally I got justice, says mother of children in Norway”
A 10-year-old (YouTube) interview with the real mother, Sagarika Chakraborti
Note: This was an interim decision that the children were going to be with their mother Sagarika. In the later court case she got permanent custody.
(10 January 2013)

Jan Simonsen:
“Child protection case damages Norway’s reputation in the Czech Republic”
(The footnote in this article has interesting details about the Stavanger/India case.)
(November 2014)

Suranya Aiyar:
Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway: Child protection in its current form has failed
(March 2023)

Trine Overå Hansen, chief editor:
Barnevernet under lupen (Barnevernet under scrutiny)
Norge IDAG, 1 March 2023
(I can’t help but notice the difference between this article and the three articles below which “contain significant inaccuracies.” I understand that this news source, Norge IDAG, has an independent Christian orientation much different than most Norwegian publications. The editor of Norge IDAG has taken an interest in getting correct information about Barnevernet and knows a lot about the subject. -CR)

Examples of recent articles which, among other things, contain significant inaccuracies:

Norwegian CP case becomes Bollywood film: – Catastrophic consequences
“Norsk barnevernssak blir Bollywood-film: – Katastrofale konsekvenser”
VG, 25 february 2023

The fatal consequences are, of course, those envisaged for Norwegian trade and commerce, seen from the point of view of people who have, like our ‘Conservative Party’, never cared about these ‘finicky concerns about unsuccessful families and their unruly children’.

“Former child protection leader on Bollywood film: – This is not the story as it happened”
“Tidligere barnevernsleder om Bollywood-film: – Dette er ikke historien slik den skjedde”
Dagsavisen, 26 februar 2023

In this article, former CPS leader in Stavanger Gunnar Toresen is allowed to repeat all the false claims and add some more false ones. He says that Sagarika kidnapped the children, that there was agreement that the children could not live with their parents. And he says that he doesn’t know anything about how things have gone for the children from the time Sagarika kidnapped them. But in fact we know, and HE could get to know, but of course he does not want any info from sources who do not implicitly bow to what the CPS claims to be the truth.

If Toresen and Barnevernet do not know how the children have fared, it must be attributed to their own behavior and that of the Norwegian authorities through the case if they cannot just by a natural and friendly enquiry get those in the know to tell them the news that life together with their mother has been good for two children whom Barnevernet had been supposed to help, much better than when they were under the ‘care’ of Barnevernet.

Actually, Sagarika has been taking an active part in demonstrations against Barnevernet’s attacks on families from other nations too. Here a survey of several demonstrations in 2016, triggered by Barnevernet taking away 5 children from the (Norwegian-Romanian) family Bodnariu, and some photos from New Delhi and in Kolkata to support the Bodnarius:

Sagarika Chakraborti is there with the children, you see them on several photos, e.g. on the last photo, and some of the others, (e.g. the one with the big Norwegian flag and the people with posters, Sagarika in light blue jeans and a dark blue top, the children beside her).

“Father of the family in the child welfare case that becomes a film: – I am portrayed as the villain”
“Familiefar i barnevernsaken som blir film: – Jeg blir fremstilt som skurken”
Dagsavisen, 27 februar 2023

Here is Anurup Bhattacharya, who turned on his wife when she would not agree to sign a binding statement saying that she would not ever be entitled to go to court in India to get the children back or get any connection with them. He ‘dreams’ up an even newer version of the story, picturing him as the discriminated against father who has not been able to see his children for 10 years. – Several questions are then pertinent, among them why he acted as he did in 2012. Why did suddenly the Indian newspaper Hindu write that Sagarika was after all a psychiatric case and mentally handicapped? Has the father paid any child support for these 10 years, and was his brother paid as a ‘foster father’ by Stavanger Municipality or the Norwegian State for the year the children were living in his parents’ house? One of the things the court in Bengal apparently said when they awarded custody to Sagarika, was that their father’s brother, who had been appointed by Norway and by his free will was to be the children’s foster father, had failed in his duties to them.


My comments:

It appears that I have gone over a year without writing anything about the state of Child Welfare. I have always been interested in the welfare of children but my interest grew dramatically with a story out of Norway in 2016. After some research I became convinced that children were being stolen by the organization in Norway designated to help families. My opinion has only been solidified by story after story like the Bodnariu case in 2016. Since then the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has found the Norwegian state guilty of severe violation of human rights involving child welfare in cases that took years to be decided, and Norway has now been given status as a ‘habitual offender’ by the ECtHR.

This new movie is a great opportunity to bring the subject back to the fore. The truth is that little to no headway has been made against the sinister and embedded systems within many governments that cause stories like the one described above. Norway isn’t the only culprit. Since I’ve been watching this situation, Sweden, Great Britain, the United States and others have been guilty of similar crimes. The cases in Norway are so blatant that they are hard to ignore.

The good people in Norway continue to try to educate others about the situation so that changes can be made. They have had a difficult task because for every item published attempting to describe reality there are 20 others published that are like those mentioned at the end of Marianne’s links above along with glowing advertisements by adoption agencies.

Sadly, the great majority of these cases in Norway do not end well. After the children are taken from their parents, the Norwegian Child “Protection Services” (called the Barnevernet) does not look to worthy extended family members to take the children in for a period of time while any problems are resolved. If more than one child is taken, and it is usually the case when there is more than one child, the children are split up into different foster homes and the parents are given very little visitation, sometimes only a few hours a year. Much of the time the parents have to travel hours to see their children because they have been moved so far away.

I have experienced one of these stories firsthand. Because I had been very active protesting these crimes on social media, a Norwegian mother and a friend of hers felt comfortable contacting me about her situation. She had just left a “Mother’s Home” in Norway where mothers are “observed” to determine if they are worthy to continue caring for their child. She was staying with her friend, a highly qualified nurse, and her family, until she could decide her next move in life. I still remember the day she called me on the phone and told me that her son had been taken from his crib by Barnevernet workers.

We were in shock. Not long after that the brave young mother decided that I should document her experience in spite of possible problems it might cause. She wanted the world to know about this evil thing that had happened to her. Over the next few months I wrote posts here describing what she was going through as she shared every important event with me over the phone. The entire series of posts was eventually shared here as well. They were shared in a post entitled: A Miracle in the Norwegian CPS? Following the young mother’s struggles is something I will never forget.

How can I forget about the American mother who had her son stolen from her almost 10 years ago? The child was a little underweight but well within any healthy metric one might conjure up. He enjoyed being breastfed and was a bit slow in taking to solid food. On a day in 2013, agents from Norway’s child protection services, along with officers from the Norway police force, stormed the mother’s home and forced her, her baby’s father and her son to go to a local hospital. Shortly thereafter, the mother had her parental rights taken from her and her son was taken into custody by Norwegian officials. The parents were granted a few visitation hours a week. After a year of visitations, she was told she could no longer see him. Almost 10 years later all the mother knows is that her son’s name has been changed multiple times just in case she tried to find him. She has no idea where he is. The incredible story can be found here: “Norway Took My Child”: Child Protective Services Takes Baby from American Mom.

It is still happening. Nothing has changed. In fact, some think that things are getting worse. Many are afraid to say anything. Some have taken their children and left Norway. I don’t blame them. Mothers are being watched. They are being watched by school officials, neighbors, church members, and many others. There is no question that some mothers could use a little assistance in rearing their children. There is no question that there is a very small minority of women who should not be mothers. But when children are taken from their parents for questionable and even trivial reasons, there will be a reckoning. One day, those who are guilty of such crimes will face a natural and spiritual reality. It is a reality as real as the stories I have shared here. It is the reality that those guilty of such crimes will reap what they have sown.

Chris Reimers

12 Responses to The Indian Bollywood film about Norwegian child protection, and the child protection case it is based on

  1. SLIMJIM says:

    Glad this caught the attention of Bollywood!

  2. Tom says:

    Chris, I see the children were taken because the parents occasionally spanked the children (not physically abused them). This is ominous.

    • Actually no, Tom. You can click into what Suranya Aiyar has to say about that point in the article referred to from March 2023:
      “Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway: Child protection in its current form has failed”:

      “Rumours, denied by the mother, that she must have slapped the child, transgressing Norwegian laws against physical discipline, turned out to be completely untrue. After Sagarika returned from Norway, we obtained all the case documents from Barnevernet. There is no report in them of even the most minimal physical encounter between Sagarika and her children — not even a single slap.”

      Suranya Aiyar is a lawyer. (I too have seen the first decision, from the county committee, in which the parents won – the children were to be given back to them, but of course Barnevernet appealed/brought the case to the court, and I have seen that judgment also).

    • I was too brief in my first reply, Tom, about spanking/slapping. Sagarika was asked, and said that she had previously slapped the boy, but had been told by the kindergarten personnel that it was illegal, and had from then on not done it.

      “There is no claim of wanton hitting of the boy. There is no claim that Abhigyan was a battered child and no finding of injury marks on his body: the CWS itself admits in one hearing that “there is no mapping of the use of physical violence” on Abhigyan.9 In any event, the alleged slapping, which the mother is also stated to have said that she stopped when kindergarten personnel informed her this was illegal in Norway,10 does not justify separating a little boy from his mother for good.”

      From “The confiscation of the Bhattacharya children by Norwegian authorities – a case study”, p 13

      Click to access case-study-final.pdf

      When Barnevernet did not pursue any such accusation, it may have been because, Sagarika having stopped it voluntarily already, before Barnevernet’s entry into the case, an accusation of having used physical punishment previously would not have strengthened their argument, which was that Sagarika would NEVER in the future, regardless of ‘guidance’ and what have you, be able to give her children good care. They wanted to ‘prove’ that she was all the time pushing the children ‘further into abnormality’.

    • Chris says:

      Hi Tom. In Norway, it is illegal to spank children as Marianne mentions in her comments. Light physical “correction” of any kind can cause you to lose your children there. The truth is, indeed, ominous.

      • Tom says:

        This brings to mind court rulings in Canada that forbid parents to interfere with an underage child’s gender change. Even refusing to address them by their preferred pronoun will be considered child abuse.

        • Chris says:

          Thanks, Tom. I have heard of some of these rulings and, after seeing the article you posted Saturday about the latest survey on percentages of people holding to a Biblical worldview, maybe it should come as no surprise. Still, it is very difficult to hear things like this.
          Late last month a story about a California teacher, whose refusal to lie to parents got her fired, was in the news. This article opened my eyes to strange things happening in the U.S.:

          Hopefully, the teacher’s litigation against the School District will be successful. Like the teacher I think all policies should protect children, and protect parental rights. At the same time I realize the root of these policies come from a society that has lost its moorings.
          These incidents bring to mind this warning from the book of Isaiah:

          20 Beware, those who call evil good and good evil, who turn darkness into light and light into darkness, who turn bitter into sweet and sweet into bitter.

  3. 20 March 2023

    I am sure it seems hyperactive and stupid of me to comment so much under an article I wrote myself. But, I can’t resist drawing attention to this article:

    “Mani Shankar Aiyar responds to Norway’s Ambassador:
    ‘Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway’ is not an attack on a country,
    but a call to reconsider its child protection system”
    Indian Express, 18 mars 2023

    As you can see from the article, the Norwegian ambassador to India Mr Frydenlund published an article in the same newspaper the day before. (It is linked to in connection with Aiyar’s article.) In my opinion, it showed almost childish ignorance. He more or less said that such things did not happen in Norway because it hadn’t happened to him and his children. (Mr Frydenlund is apparently the son of a prominent Labour Party politician from a generation or so back, so holds the same opinions? But so does nearly everybody in the Norwegian, duckpond ‘establishment’, regardless of party affiliation.)

    Now Mani Shankar Aiyar is a former member of Parliament, oil Minister, sports Minister, diplomat, economist, and a few other things, in India. I hope you ‘ll enjoy his article. I think so!

    • Chris says:

      Thank you for sharing, Marianne, and you cannot possibly over comment on this subject with the years of knowledge you have.

      What you have shared here continues to reveal the lengths that certain Norwegian officials will go to to try and blunt the effects of this film.

      I have read both the article by Mr. Aiyar and by the Norwegian ambassador to India.

      I probably should have added a comment about the ridiculous article by the Norwegian ambassador. It was a propaganda piece just like those we see from other Norwegian officials. The tense relations between Norway and India will only be made worse with articles like the ambassador’s.

      I did like Mr. Aiyar’s article. It was balanced and correct.

      It seems to me that the Barnevernet “machine” is working overtime to misrepresent the film.

      It has come to my attention that “the authorities are providing ‘experts’ on ‘child protection’ to give introductory speeches or say something soothing after the showing, to calm people down and assure them that the film is only fiction.”
      I got this information from a very good source and it made me question: “Wouldn’t the Norwegians going to see the movie wonder why this movie in particular needed this type of government intervention?”

      Norwegian “Child Protection” Services has chosen to double down on it’s position, in spite of worldwide protests and court decisions from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) that have given Norway a status as a habitual offender of human rights.

      What is it going to take for the rest of Norway to wake up? One would think that other Norwegian officials would be sick of hearing about this problem and step in to make the needed corrections. As Mr. Aiyar stated in his article:

      “While the film is about a specific case, it points to systemic deficiencies that need urgent rectification.”

      There are Norwegians who are calling for the end of this madness but it appears that few of them are in any position to make waves. The system seems firmly embedded in Norwegian society.

      I am looking forward to seeing the film. At this point I cannot find any streaming service that is showing it. Will the totalitarians who run portions of the Norwegian government be able to stop me from ever seeing the film? That question is up in the air. After large audiences in Bergen, Norway, last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the planned Monday showing was cancelled. Why would the cinema managers halt the showing of the film when the movie was doing so well? It all seems predictably suspicious to me as are so many of the articles coming from news sources across Norway.

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