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Grateful over Geeta's return, Modi donates INR10m to Edhi Foundation

Updated October 26, 2015

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Geeta, 23, arrives at the airport in New Delhi. —AP
Geeta, 23, arrives at the airport in New Delhi. —AP
Deaf-mute Indian woman Geeta gestures to the media before leaving for the airport from the Edhi Foundation in Karachi. —AFP
Deaf-mute Indian woman Geeta gestures to the media before leaving for the airport from the Edhi Foundation in Karachi. —AFP
Deaf-mute Indian woman Geeta salutes the media before leaving for the airport from the Edhi Foundation in Karachi. —AFP
Deaf-mute Indian woman Geeta salutes the media before leaving for the airport from the Edhi Foundation in Karachi. —AFP
Faisal Edhi, head of Edhi Foundation, presents a bouquet  to Indian national Geeta prior her departure from Karachi. —AP
Faisal Edhi, head of Edhi Foundation, presents a bouquet to Indian national Geeta prior her departure from Karachi. —AP

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed gratitude on the return of Geeta, the deaf and mute Indian girl who was stranded in Pakistan for more than a decade, and thanked the Edhi family for looking after her.

Modi announced a contribution of INR10 million for the Edhi Foundation.

“What the Edhi family has done is too priceless to be measured but I am happy to announce a contribution of Rs10 million for their foundation,” he tweeted on Monday.

The Indian premier welcomed Geeta and said “it was truly wonderful to have her back home”.

Modi also telephoned Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and thanked him for the efforts in ensuring Geeta’s safe return.

Geeta finally returned to her home country on Monday but soon said she did not recognise the family she thought was hers.

The young woman smiled, waved and fought back tears after landing at New Delhi airport clutching bouquets of flowers and escorted by charity workers and officials.

She was hopeful of being reunited with her long-lost family after identifying them earlier this month in photographs delivered by Indian officials in Pakistan.

But in a tragic twist just hours after arriving in Delhi, Geeta told officials she did not know the Mahato family from India's eastern state of Bihar.

“She recognised one family after we showed her their pictures. But after meeting the Mahato family today, she could not recognise them,” Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said at a press conference alongside Geeta.

Geeta remained upbeat despite the disappointment, with a sign language interpreter saying: “She used to be sad in Pakistan but after coming here she is happy. “Swaraj said Geeta would be placed in an institution if DNA test results confirmed that the family was not hers and would keep searching for her real one.

“The family has submitted their blood samples and Geeta has also given her samples. We will have scientific proof before handing her to any family,” she said.

Wearing a red tunic, her head loosely covered with a matching stole, Geeta, now 23, carried a big bouquet of flowers given to her by officials from India's Ministry of External Affairs.

“We are elated to meet her. It's been a long wait. We thank both the countries for their efforts to unite Geeta with the family,” Vinod Kumar, who says he is her brother, told reporters as he waited at the airport to greet her.

Foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said on Twitter “a daughter returns home. Geeta arrives in New Delhi accompanied by members of Edhi Foundation."

Before boarding a Pakistan International Airlines flight to the Indian capital, a beaming Geeta thanked the Pakistani people for hosting and taking care of her throughout the years.

Also read: Silencing doubts, Geeta prepares to return home

Addressing a press conference alongside Geeta before her departure, Faisal Edhi of the Edhi foundation said they would continue to stay in touch with Geeta through social media and even visiting her.

"She is not really separating from us," he said.

Bilquis Edhi and her grandchildren, Saba and Saad Edhi, accompanied Geeta to New Delhi.

Geeta recognised a family as hers through pictures sent by the Indian High Commission about a week ago.

“About two weeks ago, Geeta identified her family after seeing some pictures provided to us by Indian diplomats,” the charity's spokesman, Faisal Edhi, told The Associated Press in Islamabad. “She was very happy over it.”

The family living in the Indian state of Bihar said that their daughter was married and had a son when she left home.

However, according to Edhi Foundation, Geeta was a minor girl when they took her in some 13 years ago. 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.

Faisal Edhi told Dawn newspaper that even the Indian foreign ministry was doubtful about the family the 23-year-old girl had recognised as hers. But the issue would be resolved once a DNA test was carried out, he added.

"The Edhi Foundation is willing to let her go despite knowing that the accounts of Geeta and her apparent family about her are contradictory. After all, she is an Indian citizen." he said.

"We are glad that the foreign ministers and high commissions of India and Pakistan are taking interest in her case. Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s personal interest in the case means that she will ensure that the girl meets her real family," Faisal Edhi said