Thanks to the efforts of people on the two sides of the border, Geeta finally home!
Geeta, dressed in a red and white salwar kameez, her head covered with a dupatta, travelled from Karachi to Delhi this morning, 13 years after she accidentally crossed over to Pakistan as a child.
At the Delhi airport, Geeta, who is hearing and speech challenged, beamed and waved, a bouquet of flowers in hand. She was accompanied from Karachi by the Edhi family, who run a charitable foundation and looked after her all these years.
The 23-year-old will soon meet Janardhan Mahato from Bihar, who she had earlier this month identified as her father from one of many photographs sent to her by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.
Mahato claims the young woman is his first born Heera, lost in a fair in 2004. A DNA test will be conducted to establish whether Geeta is indeed his daughter.
Two members of the Mahato family were at the Delhi airport to receive Geeta, but could not meet her as she was swiftly whisked away by officials.
#GeetaComesHome top trended on Twitter as she landed in Delhi.
गीता – भारत की बेटी का भारत में स्वागत. Geeta – Welcome home our daughter.
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) October 26, 2015
— All India Radio News (@airnewsalerts) October 26, 2015
In Karachi, Geeta was given an emotional farewell this morning as she boarded a Pakistan International Airlines flight. Her foster family in Pakistan, the Edhis, have said they have been assured by the Indian government that they can remain in Delhi till the DNA tests are done.
Geeta was about 10 when she crossed from India into Pakistan. Exactly how is not clear but Geeta mimes an explosion and shows how she ducked and ran before being caught by armed men, according to Reuters.
As a child, she would point at maps, especially to an area south of Jharkhand until she was able to finally communicate that she was from India, not Pakistan.
Her story has been compared to the Salman Khan blockbuster “Bajrangi Bhaijaan“, about a little girl from Pakistan stuck in India. The actor plays Bajrangi, a man who made it his mission to take the girl to her family in Pakistan.
Geeta broke down on watching the film and yearned for home, something she shared with actor Salman Khan. As Geeta’s story gained fresh media attention after the film, the Indian government vowed to bring her back in a movie-style happy ending.
All’s well that ends well….