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Geeta Does Not Recognize Family

by AFP
Sajjad Hussain—AFP

Sajjad Hussain—AFP

Deaf and mute girl says she is happy to return to India.

A mute and deaf Indian woman who strayed into Pakistan more than a decade ago finally returned to her home country Monday but soon said she could not recognize the family she thought was hers.

The young woman, known only as Geeta, smiled, waved and fought back tears after landing at New Delhi airport clutching bouquets of flowers and escorted by charity workers and officials. She was hopeful of reuniting with people that she believed were her long-lost family after identifying them earlier this month in photographs delivered by Indian officials in Pakistan.

But in a tragic twist just hours after arriving in Delhi, Geeta told officials she did not know the Mahato family from India’s Bihar. “She recognized one family after we showed her their pictures. But after meeting the Mahato family today, she could not recognize them,” Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said at a press conference alongside Geeta.

Geeta’s story has been closely followed in both countries in recent months at a time of heightened tensions between the arch rivals.

Geeta remained upbeat despite the disappointment, with a sign language interpreter saying “She used to be sad in Pakistan but after coming here she is happy.”

Swaraj said Geeta would be placed in an institution if DNA test results confirmed that the family was not hers and would keep searching for her real one. “The family has submitted their blood samples and Geeta has also given her samples. We will have scientific proof before handing her to any family,” she said.

Geeta was 11 or 12 when she crossed one of the world’s most militarized borders from neighboring India. She became stuck in Pakistan because she was unable to identify herself or say where she came from. Now believed to be in her early 20s, Geeta remained under the care of Pakistan’s largest welfare organization, the Edhi Foundation, living in a shelter in Karachi.

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