India Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday appealed to Indian citizens to help her locate the family of Geeta, a hearing and speech-impaired woman, who had been ‘stranded’ in Pakistan for over a decade before returning to her home country.
Geeta, who had accidentally wandered across the border as an 11-year-old, returned to India in Oct 2015 with the help of the Edhi Foundation, which had adopted and raised the girl until she was 23.
Since her return, several Indian couples had claimed that Geeta was their daughter, but she failed to recognise them. She is currently staying with a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Indore.
On Monday, the Indian foreign minister posted pages from Geeta’s diary on her official Twitter account, which she said were obtained from Pakistan, and written in a local Indian dialect in Devanagari script.
In the tweet, Swaraj appealed to the people of her country to help identify the area where the dialect is prevalent and what Geeta’s words convey.
“This will help us locate her home and unite her with her family,” Swaraj added in her tweet.
In October, Swaraj had appealed to the people of India to help the authorities locate Geeta’s family.
At the time, the foreign minister had offered a reward of Indian Rs100,000 for anyone who helped locate Geeta’s parents.
Geeta was found wandering near the India border in Lahore in 2002 by Pakistan Rangers personnel.
They handed the child over to the Lahore branch of the Edhi Foundation — Pakistan’s largest social welfare organisation, founded by late philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi. Later, she was shifted to Karachi.
After identifying a family as her own through a picture sent by Indian officials, Geeta finally returned to India on October 26, 2015, with the head of Edhi Foundation, Bilquis Edhi.
She was received by senior diplomats from the Pakistan High Commission.
Among those waiting to meet her at the airport was Janardhan Mahato from Bihar, who she had earlier identified as her father from one of many photographs sent to her by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.
But in a tragic twist, just hours after arriving in Delhi, she told officials she did not know the family.
Sushma Swaraj then vowed to find her parents after a DNA test. However, the girl’s DNA did not match the Mahato family when results came out a month later.
Geeta’s case had come into limelight after the release of Salman Khan blockbuster hit Bajrangi Bhaijaan earlier in 2015.
The movie is based on a fictional story of a speech-impaired, six-year-old girl Munni who stumbled across the Pak-India border and greatly resembled the real-life story of Geeta.