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

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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)

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Jaipur Literature Festival Takes A Questionable Stand On The #MeToo Movement

JLF's fast spreading presence in the international arena, calls for a more substantial stand on its part, as far as #MeToo is concerned.

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The hushed whispers are getting louder. Flickr

After several star speakers of the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival, including C.P. Surendran, Suhel Seth and Chetan Bhagat, among others, have been accused of sexually harassing multiple women, on the sidelines of the popular lit fest, the organisers, in a cautiously worded one-sentence tweet on Thursday, have supported the rising tide of the #MeToo campaign in India — but questions still remain.

“The ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival unequivocally stands by the women who have courageously spoken out for equity and dignity and is committed to supporting and amplifying their voices,” the official handle of the JLF said in a tweet on Thursday.

The statement came two days after a petition was started on www.change.org by writer-editor Rajni George, asking its organisers to support the #MeToo India and stand up “against sexual harassment”.

#MeToo
Jaipur Literature Festival

“We write today regarding the serious and credible allegations of sexual harassment made recently against a number of men in and around the literary world, as part of the MeToo movement in India.

“We, the undersigned, are dismayed, saddened and angered by these accounts. We admire the work that the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) undertakes. As India’s largest and most recognised literature festival, we believe JLF is ideally placed to take the lead in addressing this urgent issue,” George’s petition said.

JLF’s response in the one-line tweet is general, and does not specifically mention whether any of the allegations that have now surfaced were earlier brought to the notice of the organisers.

It also does not make it clear whether the doors of the festival will remain closed for the accused in its future editions, or not. It further makes no comment whatsoever on several instances that are said to have taken place on the sidelines of the annual event.

#MeToo
Sanjoy K. Roy, with writers Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple as co-directors, has been instrumental in bringing societal issues to the fore.

Notably, many of the accused have featured in prominent sessions at what is described as the “greatest literary show on Earth”, and, in many instances, the festival has been instrumental in increasing their popularity as well as readership.

On its part, JLF, produced by Teamwork Arts, headed by Sanjoy K. Roy, and with writers Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple as co-directors, has been instrumental in bringing societal issues to the fore. In fact, the 2018 edition of the festival in January this year had come to a close with a hard-hitting debate on #MeToo, long before the campaign gained momentum in India.

Also Read: Watch Jaipur Literature Festival Live On Twitter

Many in the literary circles feel the benchmark that JLF has itself set over the course of its journey, its coming of age and gradual but distinct shift from controversies to substance in the recent years, its fast spreading presence in the international arena, calls for a more substantial stand on its part, as far as #MeToo is concerned. (IANS)