3 Day Programme Celebrating Release of Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway

3-Day Programme Celebrating Release of Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway
March 11, 2023
Dear friends,
This is to announce a three-day programme this weekend – March 17, 18 and 19 around the release of the film ‘Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway’ which is based on the true story of Sagarika Chakraborty who lost her children and won them back against all the odds from Norwegian child services. As you know I have been working on this issue for years – and Sagarika’s was my first case. 

Eleven years ago, it was just Sagarika and me. We were utterly alone. The world had abandoned us after the Norwegian child services succeeded, through its formidable publicity machinery, in turning The Hindu newspaper against Sagarika. As The Hindu had led the campaign for the case in India, its turning had a devastating effect, and all the media support for Sagarika fell like dominoes. 

I too was a young mother then. I had just quit work and was feeling a bit vulnerable myself. I had seen the world shrug and turn its back on me when I stopped being a “rising lawyer” and became “just” a mother. No matter, my children gave me all that I wanted. So Sagarika’s situation cut me to the quick. We give up so much to be mothers, and now they are taking our children away from us?

This was the thought that spurred me on. I was determined to help her. Piece by piece, we cobbled together support from India’s child agencies, we lobbied prominent women’s rights activists and parliamentarians, we wrote briefs, we hunted for lawyers, Sagarika submitted herself to countless evaluations. One by one, one person at a time, the support began to come back.

Each day was agony for Sagarika. I saw her through torments that I cannot describe. This is an experience that I have now had scores of times over the last decade with Indian parents abroad who began to contact me after Sagarika’s case.

Despite everything, Sagarika managed to keep fighting, to keep her head together, and to relentlessly pursue justice for herself and her children.

A year later, the children were restored to Sagarika. She and I have become dear friends since then. We had been through fire together. It has now been ten years, and the children are doing wonderfully with her. This alone is a damning indictment of the Norwegian authorities’ actions against this family.

Now Sagarika has a film made on her story. The trailer is gripping and has already raised a storm around the world. This is a great vindication for us, for Sagarika and for me. And also for all the parents whose cries for help have fallen on deaf ears owing to the undeserved credibility that Western welfare agencies have for people in India – especially, unfortunately, the NGOs, public intellectuals and newspaper editors whose understanding is necessary for the cruelty, injustice and corruption of Western child services to be exposed.

So please come for my three-day programme: On March 17th we will watch the movie together at a venue to be decided. On March 18th, there will be a seminar at the IIC, “Man, Woman, Child…and the State?” which will include speakers from Norway and the USA who have been campaigning against the injustice of their child services systems for years. On March 19th there will be a Dastangoi at the IIC inspired by Sagarika’s story and directed by celebrated Dastangoi revivalist Mahmood Farooqui. All events are at 6pm. Please call me to register. Entry is free.

Please come and show me your support for ten years of back-breaking work. A large part of this work is giving moral support to devastated parents. The disorientation of the dynamic young fathers who only went abroad to give their children a better future. The anguish of the mothers with their babies snatched when they were still breastfed infants – that stage of motherhood when your body and soul are not yet even fully cleaved from your child. I have to carry so much pain in my heart. Your support and love makes it all dissipate. So it is my personal and heart-felt appeal to you all to please come for these events.

Inquilab! Inquilab! Mothers can be warriors too! Norway, meri jaan, you can run but you can’t hide!!!