Geeta returns home, but fails to find family

Published October 27, 2015
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets Geeta in New Delhi.—AFP
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets Geeta in New Delhi.—AFP

NEW DELHI: Who is Geeta? Where is her family? When did she cross over to Pakistan from India and why? The questions will continue to be raised until the DNA tests from the blood samples she gave here on Monday throw up some of the answers.

“Welcome back home, Geeta,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he met the differently-abled girl, who had found herself in Pakistan years ago. He announced a donation of Rs10 million for the Edhi Foundation, which took care of her for many of the 13 years she was said to be in Pakistan.

Mr Modi lauded Karachi-based Bilqis Bano Edhi, member of the founding family of the group. “What the Edhi family has done is too priceless to be measured but I am happy to announce a contribution of one crore rupees to their foundation,” he added.

During the interaction, Gujarat-born Modi learnt that Ms Bilqis Bano was born in Bantwa in Junagadh in Gujarat. He invited her to visit Junagadh along with her family.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who was present on the occasion, also complimented the Edhi Foundation for the love and affection that they have showered on Geeta.

Reports said Geeta warmly embraced the Prime Minister when she met him on Monday evening, hours after arriving from Pakistan.

“It is truly wonderful to have you back home. Was truly a delight to spend time with you today,” Mr Modi tweeted later.

He assured her that every effort would be made to trace her family and that she would be looked after well. “All of India will take care of you,” Mr Modi told her.

The 23-year-old woman, who is hearing and speech challenged, arrived at the Delhi airport to a big welcome on Monday morning. She was received by senior diplomats from the Pakistan High Commission. A reception that was to be hosted for her by High Commissioner Abdul Basit was cancelled because of the earthquake tragedy in Pakistan. Among those waiting to meet her at the airport was Janardhan Mahato from Bihar, who she had earlier this month identified as her father from one of many photographs sent to her by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.

But Geeta did not recognise him or the three men who claimed to be her brothers.

“We will wait for the DNA test results. Because she has refused to go with the Mahatos and said they are not her parents, she will stay at a home in Indore,” said Ms Swaraj. The minister had earlier tweeted: “Welcome home our daughter”.

Mr Mahato claims the young woman is his first born Heera, lost in a fair in 2004.

NDTV reported that many details that he gave about his lost daughter didn’t add up; Geeta has denied that she was married or has a child.

Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2015

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