Geeta, the deaf-mute Indian woman stuck in Pakistan for nearly 15 years, has identified her family back home, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said on Thursday.
“Geeta will be back in India soon. We have located her family. She will be handed over to the family only after the DNA test,” Swaraj tweeted.
Anwar Kazmi, spokesperson for the Karachi-based Edhi Foundation, told Hindustan Times that Geeta identifed her family from a photo that was emailed to them by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.
“This family is from Bihar. Geeta identified her parents and four siblings,” Kazmi said.
“We now want the authorities to arrange for Geeta to commmunicate with this family via skype. This would help remove any possible confusion. Geeta too has conveyed to us that she wants to communicate with them, “ he added.
Geeta is set to fly back to India on October 20 along with Bilqees Edhi, wife of the charity’s founder Abdul Sattar Edhi, the source said.
Sources at the ministry of external affairs said all formalities, including the confirmation of her Indian nationality, were completed for bringing her back to the country.
Indian authorities were proceeding cautiously because at least four families had come forward to claim her, an MEA source said.
The woman apparently entered the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore on a train from India almost 15 years ago. She was found by police and sent to a state-run shelter.
Geeta was then moved from one shelter to another –as she often tried to escape and quarrelled with staff — before she arrived at the Edhi Foundation, which is Pakistan’s largest and best-known charity.
Her story evoked considerable media interest in India and Pakistan, especially after the release of Bollywood film Bajrangi Bhaijan which features Salman Khan overcoming all odds to take a deaf and mute girl back to her relatives in Pakistan.
Leading rights activist and Pakistan’s former human rights minister Ansar Burney has been carrying out a campaign to reunite the woman with her family in India.