Geeta to meet Indian President today
Yesterday, Geeta met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after she returned to India from neighbouring Pakistan, decades later. Yesterday when Geeta had arrived in Delhi, Indian officials along with those who stated that they were her parents, had also arrived at the airport. Bilquees Edhi, who had provided for Geeta all these years in Pakistan, was also there.
When Geeta had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday, the Indian premier had donated a sum of Rs 1 million for the Edhi foundation and also thanked Edhi for taking care of the girl all these years.
Geeta is expected to meet President Pranab Mukherjee today aat around 1 pm.
Geeta, arrived in New Delhi on Monday (today), met Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj along with Bilquis Edhi at her office. The minister thanked Bilquis Edhi for taking care of the Indian girl in Karachi.
“No matter if we find Geeta’s parents or not, she is the daughter of India and we will take care of her,” said Swaraj.
Addressing a press conference, Susham Swaraj said that Geeta has refused to recognise her family after meeting them. She said the Indian government will conduct DNA test of the girl.
Four different families from different Indian states had claimed that Geeta was their daughter, Swaraj said. “I wrote to the chief ministers of the these states to probe the claim.”
She said that the government has decided that even if Geeta’s parents are not traced, “we will still get her back to India.”
Indian external affairs minister said that she will be sent at a shelter till tracing out her family. “We are sending Geeta to an Institution in Indore,” the minister announced.
Geeta landed at the international airport in Delhi on a Pakistan International Airlines flight from Karachi at 10.20am. She is accompanied by five representatives of the Edhi Foundation, including Bilqees Edhi, the Pakistani woman who cared for her and led a campaign for her return to India.
After her arrival in the Indian capital, she was taken to the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi in a multi-vehicle convoy.
गीता – भारत की बेटी का भारत में स्वागत. Geeta – Welcome home our daughter.
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) October 26, 2015
Later speaking to Indian Foreign Minister through sign language, she said ‘My heart has always been in India.”
Before boarding the flight in Karachi, Geeta, clad in a red and white shalwar-kameez, used sign language to thank the Pakistani people for hosting her and caring for her.
Speaking on he occasion, Faisal Edhi said Edhi representatives would stay in touch with with Geeta through social media and visit her also, adding that she was not separating from them.
In a statement, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry has wished Geeta best of luck in her life.
Who is Geeta?
A young deaf and mute woman known as Geeta, was stuck in Pakistan ever since she wandered over one of the world’s most militarised borders from India more than 10 years ago.
Lost and alone, unable to identify her family or where she came from, she has remained in Pakistan under the care of the country’s largest welfare organisation, the Edhi Foundation, living in a shelter in the port city of Karachi.
Now — after repeated false leads, and thanks to a Bollywood hit and the single photograph — Geeta believes she has finally identified her family.
“This is my father, and my younger brother,” Geeta told a news agency during an interview in Karachi this week using a combination of sign language and facial expressions as she pointed to the photograph showing the family from the Indian state of Bihar.
A woman also shown in the picture is believed to be her stepmother.
Though her eyes glistened during the interview, Geeta appeared calm and confident, expressing no doubt that her family had been found.
She even showed off the clothes she plans to wear for the Hindu festival of Diwali in India next month: a scarlet blouse and turquoise ghagra, or long skirt, heavily embroidered.
But questions remain. The unnamed family she has identified say that the daughter they lost was married and had a baby when she disappeared — but Geeta is believed to have only been around 11 or 12 when she was found by Pakistani police.
“She is quite sure about her father and brothers, but she will take a DNA test in India before she is handed over to the family,” said Bilqees Edhi, matriarch of the Edhi family, who fostered Geeta at the foundation’s centre for hundreds of abandoned and orphaned children in Karachi.
Geeta, who is believed to be in her twenties, was alone and disorientated with no identity papers when police found her on a train that had crossed the border from India into the eastern city of Lahore.
She was thought to have strayed into Pakistani territory by mistake, but could not remember or explain exactly where she was from, and police soon handed her over to the Edhi Foundation.
Even the name “Geeta” was given to her by Edhi staff.
Years slipped by, but her case was given a fresh boost in August after the release of a Bollywood movie that told the mirror image of her story — a mute, young Pakistani woman ends up trapped in India.
“Bajrangi Bhaijaan”, featuring Indian superstars Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor, became a smash hit. The spotlight returned to Geeta, and the Indian government pledged to bring her home.
Authorities turned up many families saying that Geeta could be their daughter, but she claimed to recognise the family from Bihar, and has kept their framed picture in a steel case ever since.
On Friday, India’s foreign ministry spokesman rejected the suggestion that Geeta’s return had been arranged too hastily, given her ties with the family were not yet established.
“Everything we have done so far has been with the full knowledge and concurrence of Geeta and Edhi Foundation,” he told media in New Delhi.
If her DNA does not match that of the family, who have travelled to Delhi specially to greet her, Indian authorities have said they will find a home for Geeta in a “suitable institution”.
Geeta is taking three suitcases with her loaded down with gifts: glass bangles for her step-mother, dried fruits for her brothers, and dozens of pairs of clothes.
“We are sad that she is leaving,” Saba Ehi, one of the members of the Edhi family who will accompany Geeta to Delhi, told AFP.
“But we are happy that she is going to see her parents and their own people.”
Additional input by AFP