The wait for Geeta, the hearing and speech impaired girl who has returned to India from Pakistan after 15 years, to re-unite with her family seems to be far from over. In the latest twist in the case, Geeta has refused to recognise Mahatos, who claimed to be her family, as parents.
As Geeta made her way out of the ceremonial lounge of IGI around 11.30 PM, the family tried to make their way forward carrying rose petals and marigold garlands but she was whisked away by security personnel.
Addressing a press conference in the national capital, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that Geeta would be sent to a shelter home in Indore for now, even as DNA samples have already been given for tests.
If the DNA reports are not in favour of Janardhan Mahato and family, Swaraj said that a fresh search would be launched to look for her parents.
Talking to a huge media posse outside the lounge, one Manoj, who claimed to be Geeta’s brother, expressed his “disappointment” over not being given the chance to garland the 23-year-old.
“We want to meet her. Wanted to welcome her properly. It’s a great moment for us. We had lost all hope. Want to thank the media, foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, our lawyer. It’s like lord Rama’s homecoming after spending 14 years in exile. This is our Diwali,” he said.
Contrary to her categorical denials in this regard, he also claimed that Geeta was married and used to live with her husband when she got lost from a “Baisakhi fair”.
Janardhan Mahato, who claims to be her father, thanked Swaraj and Pakistani officials for ensuring her return. “She will recognise us all and will embrace us the moment we meet her. She is not a girl anymore, she’s god.”
Earlier on Monday, Geeta received a ceremonial welcome by Indian and Pakistan High Commission at the IGI airport. Manzoor Ali Memon, media head of Pakistan High Commission, and Ayesha Ahsan, counsellor (political), received Geeta at the airport.
Later in the evening, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit will host dinner for Geeta & her family. Pakistan Foreign Ministry in a statement said, “Ms. Geeta left Karachi for New Delhi today. Her return was facilitated by the Government of Pakistan. Earlier, the High Commission of India, Islamabad, had confirmed her Indian nationality. During her stay in Pakistan, Ms.Geeta was looked after by the world renowned philanthropist, Abdul Sattar Edhi and his family. We wish Ms. Geeta well.”
Welcoming Geeta, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said, “A daughter returns home. Geeta arrives in New Delhi accompanied by members of Edhi Foundation.”
Fifteen years ago, Geeta accidentally crossed into Pakistan. She was found sitting alone in Samjhauta Express by Pakistan Rangers at Lahore Railway station and they brought her to Edhi foundation.