External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj has directed the Indian envoy in Pakistan to look into the case of a hearing and speech impaired Indian woman who has been stranded in the neighbouring country for at least 15 years.
In a post on Twitter on Monday, Swaraj said: “I have asked Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Dr TCA Raghavan to go to Karachi with Mrs Raghavan and meet this girl.”
She was responding to a tweet from leading rights activist and Pakistan’s former human rights minister Ansar Burney, who has launched a fresh campaign to reunite the woman with her family in India.
I have asked Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Dr TCA Raghavan to go to Karachi with Mrs Raghavan and meet this girl. @AnsarBurney— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) August 3, 2015
about efforts by Pakistani activists to unite the woman – whom Karachi-based rights activist Bilqees Edhi christened Geeta because no one knows her real name – with her parents and relatives.
The renewed push is inspired by the success of the Bollywood film Bajrangi Bhaijaan, which features Salman Khan overcoming all odds to take a deaf and mute girl back to her relatives in Pakistan.
Burney, who will be in India in September to meet the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, acknowledged the fresh effort to find the woman’s parents was because of the success of the film in both countries.
Burney jokingly said it seemed the Bollywood film was inspired by his efforts in 2012 to find Geeta’s family during a visit to India.
“I went to India three years ago with photos and video of Geeta to try and find her family but I couldn’t trace any leads. My trust has started a cross-border campaign to try and find Geeta's relatives so that she can be handed over to them," Burney told Hindustan Times on phone from Britain.
Geeta now lives with Bilqees Edhi, the wife of Abdul Sattar Edhi, founder of Edhi Foundation, Pakistan’s largest and best-known charity.
“The girl, whose age is about 22 to 24, keeps telling me through gestures that she wants to fly back home in an aeroplane. Sometimes, she cries a lot. I pray to Allah that she is reunited with her family soon,” Bilqees told Hindustan Times from Karachi.
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’s inability to communicate caused a lot of frustration and she was moved from one welfare home to another as she often tried to escape and quarrelled with staff, Bilqees said.
“Efforts made by the authorities to trace her family in India produced no results and she was finally sent to Karachi. She looks much younger than her actual age because she’s very short,” she said.
Cops do a Bajrangi Bhaijaan, reunite girl with kin