Sushma Swaraj calls Geeta India’s daughter, expresses gratitude to Edhis


New Delhi: Geeta, a deaf-mute Indian woman who accidentally crossed over to Pakistan more than a decade ago, arrived in New Delhi on Monday. Escorted by five members of the Edhi Foundation, Geeta emerged from the special entrance at the IGI airport surrounded by officials.

However, the girl as of now has refused to recognize her family after meeting them, said External Affairs minister. Swaraj briefed the media at 3 pm on Monday. Pakistan’s high commissioner Abdul Basit will also host Geeta and the Edhi delegation this evening.

“No matter if we find her (Geeta’s) parents or not, she is a daughter of India and we will take care of her… We are very grateful that the EDHI foundation helped her keep her traditions alive, for Geeta never even ate non-veg food in Pakistan,” Swaraj said.

The Edhi family members who have accompanied Geeta to New Delhi are India’s state guests, she added.

“Hum do hazaar chaudah may aaye (we came to power in 2014),” Swaraj said when asked why there was a delay of so many years to get Geeta back home.

Geeta – whose heartrending story bears an uncanny resemblance to that of a character named ‘Munni’ in the Bollywood blockbuster Bajrangi Bhaijaan – was unable to return home, for she could not remember or explain where she was actually from.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the members of Edhi Foundation will be treated as state guests.Geeta

“On October 26, 2015, we will be bringing Geeta back to India. Together with Geeta, we have invited five officials of the Edhi Foundation,” Swarup had said on Friday.

He said that Geeta has already identified one family as possibly being that of her parents.

“We will be doing DNA testing to establish conclusive proof. If the DNA tests match, Geeta will be handed over to that family. If not, we have identified suitable institutions where she will be looked after,” Swarup said.

He said on the institutions identified are in Delhi and Indore.

Bilkis Edhi’s grandson Fahad said,  “She will be accompanied by me, my father Faisal Edhi, my mother and my grandmother Bilqees Edhi…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 DNA tests will confirm this.”Geeta

The Express Tribune reported, Geeta took with her all the gifts she received in the past few years – including a gold-jewellery set from Bilquis Edhi, a silver-jewellery set from Faisal Edhi on Raksha Bandhan and a gold chain with a pendant that bears her name.

“We have also packed some dresses for her to wear on Diwali next month,” said Saba Edhi.

In a bid to express her gratitude to the people of Pakistan, Geeta used the sign language to say she felt blessed to be in that country, as translated by her instructor Ishrat Shaheen.

“She will never forget how much love and respect Pakistan has given her.”

Geeta also promissed to keep in touch with her instructor and friends via internet video chat.Geeta

Geeta, now in her early 20s, was around 11 years old when she inadvertently crossed the border to Pakistan.

In 2003, Geeta — then 11 years old — was spotted by the Pakistan Rangers in Lahore, and handed over to the Edhi Foundation. Bilquis Edhi, who runs the Edhi Foundation, has named her Geeta.

(With inputs from IANS)