Oslo: In a huge setback to an Indian couple battling for custody of their children, Norwegian authorities on Thursday said they are not going ahead with a deal to hand over the kids to their uncle in view of "conflicts" in the family.

 "In the light of the great uncertainty that now prevails, the Child Welfare Service (CWS) cannot maintain that a move to India would be in the best interests of the children," CWS chief Gunnar Toresen said in a statement.

The statement follows reports of differences between the parents -- Anurup and Sagarika Bhhatacharya, whose children three-year-old Abhigyan and one-year-old Aishwarya were placed in foster care in Norway in May last year on grounds of "emotional disconnect".

Over the last few days, both the parents and the children's uncle, who was to get the custody of the kids, "have changed their position several times on the agreement that had originally been reached. This has caused the CWS to doubt their motives as far as the agreement is concerned," Toresen said.

Arunabhash Bhattacharya, the paternal uncle of the children, is in Norway in connection with the case.

The CWS had a clear intention to sign and implement the agreement but that the events of the last few days now make this impossible, Toresen said.

In view of the "new developments," the hearing scheduled for Friday in the Stavanger District Court will not take place now, the statement said.

Toresen said the authorities have been made aware of a conflict in the family that could influence the outcome of the case.

The CWS "is no longer confident that the parties wish to enter into a genuine agreement. Over the last few days, the parties to the agreement have provided conflicting and different information, both to the CWS and to the media, on their positions in the case," Toresen said.

"Even if the parents and the children's uncle should nevertheless now want to sign an agreement, the CWS does not have sufficient confidence that an agreement would be fulfilled as intended, because the necessary consensus and understanding between the parties and their families does not exist," he said.

This means that the children could be caught up in "a very unfortunate tug of war in India," Toresen said.

He said the family no longer appeared to be in agreement, and the necessary conditions for entering into an agreement of this kind were therefore not present.