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UP couple claims Geeta their daughter

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Lucknow: A family from Uttar Pradesh’s Pratapgarh district has now claimed that deaf and mute Geeta, who returned from Pakistan after being separated from her parents over a decade ago, is their daughter.

Ramraj Gautam and his wife Anara Devi, residents of Maheshganj, late Monday met Divisional Commissioner of Allahabad Rajan Shukla and said they were ready for “all probes and necessary tests to get their daughter back”.

Now in her early 20s, Geeta was about 11 years old when she inadvertently crossed into Pakistan in 2003. She was spotted by the Pakistan Rangers in Lahore, and was handed over to the Edhi Foundation, a social welfare organisation that looked after her for over 10 years.

Geeta returned to India on Monday and was received by high ranking Indian and Pakistani officials at the Delhi airport.

The development came after Geeta refused to identify Bihar couple Mahatos as her family. The couple had claimed Geeta was their lost daughter.

However, neighbours said the news of Mahatos claiming Geeta their own made Ramraj Gautam and Anara Devi very “anxious and restless”.

Shukla directed Allahabad District Magistrate Amrit Tripathi to get a DNA test done on the couple.

Meanwhile, the couple and other family members have left for New Delhi to meet Geeta. The couple say Geeta is their daughter Savita, who got separated from them in Chapra, Bihar some 11 years back.

The family has also shown officials many old family photographs where they said Geeta can be seen as a small girl.

(IANS)

 

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Pakistan In U.S. Blacklist For Religious Freedom Violations

Russia has increasingly drawn concern in the United States over its treatment of Jehovah's Witnesses

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Pakistan, Religious Freedom
Members and supporters of the Muslim Student Organization (MSO) chant slogans during a protest after the Supreme Court overturned the conviction of a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy against Islam, in Islamabad, Pakistan. VOA

The United States said Tuesday it has added Pakistan to its blacklist of countries that violate religious freedom, ramping up pressure over its treatment of minorities.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he had designated Pakistan among “countries of particular concern” in a congressionally mandated annual report, meaning the U.S. government is obliged to exert pressure to end freedom violations.

Pompeo a year earlier had placed Pakistan on a special watch list – a step short of the designation – in what had been seen as a U.S. tactic to press Islamabad into reforms.

Human rights advocates have long voiced worry about the treatment of minorities in Pakistan, including Shiites, Ahmadis and Christians.

Sikh, Religious Freedom
A Sikh pilgrim visits the shrine of their spiritual leader Guru Nanak Dev in Kartarpur, Pakistan. VOA

But the timing of the full designation may be jarring as it comes after Pakistan moved to resolve its most high-profile case, with the Supreme Court in October releasing Asia Bibi – a Christian woman on death row for eight years for blasphemy.

The government recently charged a hardline cleric, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, with terrorism and sedition after he led violent protests against Bibi’s acquittal.

“In far too many places across the globe, individuals continue to face harassment, arrests or even death for simply living their lives in accordance with their beliefs,” Pompeo said in a statement.

“The United States will not stand by as spectators in the face of such oppression,” he said.

Nine countries remained for another year on the list of Countries of Particular Concern – China, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

pakistan,Sikh, Religious Freedom
Pakistani activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, center, arrives along with her father Ziauddin Yousafzai, second left, brother Atal Yousafzai, left, and the principal of all-boys Swat Cadet College Guli Bagh, during her hometown visit, March 31, 2018. VOA

The United States removed one country from the list – Uzbekistan– but kept it on the watch list.

Pompeo also put on the watch list Russia, adding another item of contention to the relationship between the two powers.

Also Read: The Hindu Temple of Gulyana and Sikh Samadhi in Pakistan

Russia has increasingly drawn concern in the United States over its treatment of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the heterodox Christian group known for proselytization.

Also on the watch list was the Comoros, the Indian Ocean archipelago that is almost exclusively Sunni Muslim. (VOA)