Norway – Oslo court convicts Indian couple for abusing son, says cultural difference no excuse

Indian software professional V Chandrasekhar and his wife Anupama were convicted on Tuesday by a Norwegian court for physically abusing their seven-year-old son Sai Sriram.

Chandrasekhar, working for TCS in Norway since 2010 as an IT consultant, was awarded a prison term of 18 months by the Oslo District Court while wife Anupama has got a 15-month term.

“We will appeal against the verdict,” defence lawyer Adeline Brendal-Veisal was quoted telling a Norwegian newspaper, Aftenposten.

The couple’s relatives in India said they were disappointed by the court’s verdict. They also pointed out that, intriguingly, the Orange Book — the complaint issued by the school against the couple — had gone missing.

The couple were arrested on November 30, about nine months after their son Sai Sriram complained to his school teachers that they were threatening to punish him severely and send him back to India for wetting his pants in the school bus.

The boy had refused to take the school bus home saying that his father had threatened to burn his tongue. School authorities, alarmed by Sai’s fears, had complained to the Norwegian child care authorities.

The boy reportedly told officials that his mother had asked her husband to scald him with a heated spoon for being disobedient and peeing in his pants. He had burn marks on his lower leg. The parents, however, claimed that the boy had accidentally bumped into a heated cooking spoon in the kitchen. But an expert said in court that the boy could not have received such a burn by accidentally touching or bumping into a heated spoon.

It was also said that the father struck his son with a belt or a similar object and that, at least once, had threatened to burn his son’s tongue with a hot spoon. The Oslo court pointed out that the rough treatment went on for over six to seven months and qualified as repeated beatings.

The defence lawyer underlined “cultural differences” in India and Norway, but the argument didn’t cut ice with the court. The son, according to the defence lawyer, has behavioral problems. The lawyer argued that if the father went to jail, then the family would lose its only source of income. She also pointed out that one of the two children, now staying with their grandfather, had fallen sick. The parents told the court that the boy tended to exaggerate and imagine things.

Earlier on Monday, news agencies quoted Kurt Lir, head of prosecution, Oslo police department, saying that the couple was charged with gross or repeated maltreatment of their child/children by threats, violence or other wrong, under section 219.

Chandrashekhar, who hails from coastal Andhra’s Krishna district, was posted in Oslo by his company in 2010. The family returned home in July this year. Chandrashekhar left for Norway again on November 23 with his wife. The couple left their two sons behind. A court in Oslo issued summons and later, the police arrested them.