Indian lost girl ( Geeta ) uses sign language to thank Pakistani people for hosting, caring for her
NEW DELHI – Some 15 years after she strayed across the border in a train and was stranded in Pakistan, speech and hearing impaired Geeta made an emotional return to India on Monday to be reunited with her family.
Geeta flew into the international airport in Delhi on a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight from Karachi, 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. Faisal Edhi said that Shabbana Edhi and Saad Edhi are also accompanying Geeta on her journey back home.
Before boarding the flight in Karachi, a beaming Geeta, clad in a red and white shalwar-kameez, used sign language to thank the Pakistani people for hosting her and caring for her. Faisal Edhi told journalists that they would stay in touch with Geeta through social media and even visit her. “She is not really separating from us,” he said.
Geeta, believed to be 23 now, was received at the airport by officials from the external affairs ministry and senior Pakistani diplomats. In a rare gesture, the Indian government will treat the representatives of the Karachi-based charity as state guests. In the evening, Pakistan high commissioner Abdul Basit and his wife would host a reception for Geeta and those accompanying her.
Though Geeta is convinced about the family in Bihar which has claimed her, she would be handed over only after DNA tests. If the tests turn out negative, she would be placed in a home either in Delhi or Indore. “We are happy that finally she is going home,” said Faisal Edhi, the son of Edhi Foundation chief Abdul Sattar Edhi.
The foundation said that it had got an assurance from Indian authorities that its representatives could remain in New Delhi till DNA tests to confirm Geeta’s parentage are completed. Geeta identified her family through a photograph sent to her by the Indian high commission in Islamabad. The family reportedly is from Bihar.
“This is my father, and my younger brother,” Geeta told the media through a combination of sign language and facial expressions as she pointed to the photograph. She also showed off the clothes she plans to wear for Diwali next month – a scarlet blouse and a turquoise and heavily embroidered ghagra. She was presented a Sindhi Ajrak and many other gifts before she left Karachi.
“We are elated to meet her. Its 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 journalists as he waited at the airport to greet her. Foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said on Twitter “a daughter returns home”.
Attired in red and white Shalwar Kameez, Geeta appeared excited to soon be reunited with her family in India, if the Indian family’s claims turn out to be correct after DNA tests.