Stuck in Pakistan, Geeta identifies family members in photos from India
KARACHI: Geeta has finally identified her family in photos sent from across the border, over 13 years after the deaf-mute Indian girl inadvertently entered Pakistani territory and was stranded in the country.
The development on Thursday increases the likelihood of Geeta returning to her family in her home country as early as the end of this month.
Our correspondent said Geeta was jubilant after identifying her father in the photo. She has already packed her bags and is ready to leave for her home country ever since she learnt that the Indian government has accepted her as an Indian citizen.
According to Faisal Edhi, the son of famous Pakistani philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi, the Indian government has informed Pakistan's foreign office in writing that the country has accepted Geeta as its citizen.
Shortly after news broke of Geeta identifying her family, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted: "Geeta will be back in India soon. We have located her family. She will be handed over to them only after the DNA test."
Geeta, aged in her early 20s, lives in a women's shelter in Karachi run by the Edhi Foundation, Pakistan's largest welfare organisation. News of her plight surfaced in 2012 but no progress was made in tracing her roots.
But following the development today, sources say she is now expected to depart for India as early as October 26.
Sources said Indian authorities are also expecting Bilquis Edhi – Edhi's wife with whom Geeta has lived ever since she started living at the Edhi shelter – to travel along with her on her journey back to her homeland.
Deaf and mute, Geeta was stuck in Pakistan for over a decade and unable to return to her native India because she could not remember or explain exactly where she was from.
Following fresh media coverage in recent months, the Indian government pledged to bring her home, in an echo of a smash-hit Bollywood film.
"Bajrangi Bhaijaan", featuring Indian superstars Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor and released earlier this year, told the mirror image of Geeta's story – a mute young Pakistani woman who ends up trapped in India.