t’s an ending straight out of Salman Khan’s blockbuster Bajrangi Bhaijaan. A speech and hearing impaired woman who was stranded in Pakistan for 11 years after accidentally crossing the border, has finally come back home in India.
Geeta arrived at the Indira Gandhi International airport on a Pakistan International Airlines flight on Monday morning. Senior diplomats from the Pakistan high commission received Geeta on her arrival at Indira Gandhi International airport.
She is also due to meet Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj in the afternoon.
BBC Hindi’s Salman Ravi who had travelled to the Kabeera Dhaap village in Bihar which was supposedly Geeta’s home before she was lost, reported that there’s a lot of excitement at the home of Janardhan Mahato who has claimed that Geeta is his long-lost daughter Heera. He said Heera was lost in a fair in Ludhiana.
“We are absolutely sure that Geeta is our Heera. We have seen her grow up in the village. We saw her get married and then she left with her husband for Ludhiana. We know the DNA test will establish our claim,” villager Edison Mahato told Ravi.
Geeta was just 8 or 9 years old when she was found sitting alone on the Samjhauta Express by the Pakistan Rangers 15 years ago at the Lahore railway station.
Now about 20 years old, Geeta was adopted by the Edhi Foundation’s Bilquees Edhi and lives with her in Karachi. Fahad Edhi of the Edhi Foundation told PTI that Geeta would leave by a PIA flight this morning at 8:30 AM (IST) for New Delhi.
“She will be accompanied by me, my father Faisal Edhi, my mother and my grandmother Bilqees Edhi,” Fahad said.
He said they had got assurances that they would remain in New Delhi until Indian authorities completed DNA tests to confirm the parentage of Geeta.
“We are going with her because she recognised the family in the photograph sent to us by the Indian High Commission as her family. But the DNA tests will confirm this,” Fahad said.
He said Indian authorities had assured them that if the DNA tests came negative Geeta would be placed in safe custody.
“She has been with us for so many years, she is like a family member and we would like her to stay with us. But obviously she wants to be in her country and with her real family,” he said.
He said the Pakistan and Indian governments have completed all formalities for Geeta’s journey back home.
Edhi Foundation’s Anwar Kazmi that the five people including Faisal Edhi were given visas but only four are going with Geeta. All of them have been declared as state guests.
Geeta has identified her father, step-mother and siblings from a photograph sent to her by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. The family reportedly lives in Bihar.
Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, T C A Raghavan, and his wife had visited Geeta in August after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj directed him to meet her and try to locate her family. (With PTI inputs)