A deaf and mute Indian woman, Geeta flies home 12 years after straying into Pakistan
After being under the care of Pakistan’s largest welfare organisation a young deaf and mute Indian woman who strayed into Pakistan more than twelve years ago has been flown to Delhi to be reunited with the people she believes are her family
Known only as Geeta, (a name given to her by Edhi staff) she was unable to identify herself or say where she came from when she wandered over into Pakistan from the heavily militarised border which seperates India and Pakistan.
Now believed to be in her early 20’s, she has remained in Pakistan, living in a shelter in Karachi under the care of the Edhi Foundation.
“We are happy that finally she is going home,” Faisal Edhi, son of the foundation’s founder Abdul Sattar Edhi, told reporters outside their office in Karachi.
Following over a decade of repeated false leads in the effort to find her family, Geeta’s story received a publicity boost in August when a Bollywood film with a similar plot became a smash hit.
“Bajrangi Bhaijaan”, featuring Indian superstars Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor, told the story of a Pakistani girl lost in India and how she is finally reunited with her family.
The Indian government vowed to bring her home, and joined the search in helping to locate Geeta’s family. Many families had turned up and presented by the authorities saying that Geeta could be their daughter.
However, Geeta claimed to recognise one unnamed family from Bihar state, through a photograph sent to her by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad and has kept their framed picture in a steel case ever since.
But questions remain, with the family saying that the daughter they lost was married and had a baby when she disappeared, though Geeta is believed to have only been aged 7 0r 8 when she was found in the eastern city of Lahore by Pakistani police.
According to Faisal Edhi, Geeta had told them through sign language that her father was an elderly man and she had a stepmother and step siblings.
Geeta is being escorted to Delhi by Bilqees Edhi, the wife of the organisation’s founder, and Saba Edhi, her daughter-in-law.
She will undergo DNA testing in India before being handed over to the family, Bilqees Edhi said.
Indian authorities have said even if the DNA testing proves Geeta is not related to the family from Bihar, they will place her in a “suitable institution”.
The Edhi family said they planned to remain in touch with Geeta.
“We are not parting, we could go there to see her and she could come here,” Faisal Edhi said, adding that the foundation had also arranged to continue communicating with Geeta through social media and skype.