External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj has assured Geeta, the mute-deaf girl who was stranded in Pakistan for over a decade, that the government is trying hard to locate the whereabouts of her parents.
Geeta, who returned to India on October 26 after inadvertently crossing into Pakistan over a decade ago, is staying in Indore at a facility of a hearing and speech impaired institute run by a local NGO.
Swaraj met the girl on Tuesday.
“Sushma called Geeta to a hotel here last night. As soon as the girl reached Sushma’s place, the overwhelmed minister hugged her. In a 30-minute meeting, the minister assured the girl that the government is employing all possible means to trace her parents to re-unite her with them,” the institute’s sign language department head Monika Punjabi Verma said on Wednesday.
Geeta showed Swaraj a cloth which she had knitted after which the minister admired her talent, the sign language expert added.
On December 18, the minister had tweeted Geeta’s photograph clicked from the days when she got separated from her parents, mentioning some of her birth marks, in an apparent attempt to reach her parents.
On Tuesday, a 40-year-old woman from Jabalpur district of Madhya Pradesh claimed herself to be mother of Geeta.
The woman, Aneesa Bi gave an application seeking permission to meet Geeta by describing her as her daughter, Najjo. According to her, she had disappeared from Gotegaon in Narsinghpur district about 13 years back. The woman also submitted a passport size photograph of her lost girl, district in-charge collector, Ashish Singh told PTI.
He said Aneesa’s application was forwarded to social justice department.
The officer recalled receipt of four similar applications in the past staking claim for Geeta and sought permission to meet her. “These (applications) too were forwarded to Centre,” he said. Earlier, in November, a (Mahato) family from Bihar had come forward claiming that Geeta was their daughter after she felt that they were her parents. However, DNA tests conducted on her proved otherwise.
Mahato claimed Geeta was his first child and her name was Heera who was lost in a fair in 2004.
Geeta had failed to recognise the Mahato family after arriving here though after seeing their photographs had earlier identified them.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup had then said that some other families have also come forward saying perhaps Geeta was their child and government has been sending their pictures to her who is staying in a rehab centre in Indore, where she is being given skill development training.
On an earlier occasion, Geeta did not recognise a couple from Uttar Pradesh who had arrived here claiming that she was their long-lost daughter.
She had also failed to recognise the people who claimed that they were her parents or family members when she reached New Delhi from Pakistan.
Geeta was reportedly just 7 or 8-years-old when she was found sitting alone on the Samjhauta Express by the Pakistan Rangers 15 years ago at the Lahore railway station.
She was then adopted by Edhi Foundation’s Bilquis Edhi. Her story came to light after the release of Salman Khan-starrer ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ in which the hero unites a little Pakistani girl, who was mute, with her mother in the neigbouring country.