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Thursday, October 29, 2015

'Bajrangi Bhaijaan' woman stuck in Pakistan for 13 years goes home to India '

This is the example of reaching heights of humanity and spirituality, to raise a Hindu child in Hindu tradition. It is difficult in a nation like Pakistan to do so, but there are so many good people out there, and am glad to read this story and share it at http://foundationforpluralism.blogspot.com

Mike Ghouse

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'Bajrangi Bhaijaan' woman stuck in Pakistan for 13 years goes home to India

Story of Geeta, who is deaf and mute, mirrors that of Bollywood hit, but happy ending might prove elusive
A young deaf-mute Indian woman stranded in Pakistan for 13 years has finally returned to her homeland despite uncertainty over whether she will ever succeed in finding her family.

Known as Geeta, the woman received a hero’s welcome at Delhi airport on Monday before being whisked away for a meeting with India’s foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, and a DNA test that, it is hoped, will confirm she belongs to a family from Bihar she recently recognised from photographs.

  With all the improbability of the Bollywood hit Bajrangi Bhaijaan – a film about a mute Pakistani girl lost in India – Geeta’s story has attracted intense public interest and some high-level cooperation between two rival governments.
Geeta, who is now in her early 20s, was found alone, confused and without identification papers in Lahore in 2002 after apparently boarding a train from India.

She was taken in by the Edhi Foundation, a major Pakistani charity based in Karachi, the city where she has lived for more than a decade in a shelter with a small temple provided for her personal use.

Abdul Sattar Edhi and his wife Bilquis took a close interest in her upbringing, even choosing the name by which she is now known.

Although Bilquis reportedly hoped to find a suitable husband for Geeta from among Pakistan’s Hindu minority, the young woman herself never gave up hope of returning home.

There were few clues to go on, however. An Indian phone number she wrote down for her guardians was incomplete and no one in Karachi was able to decipher her writing.
Her story has been muddled. By one account she somehow wandered across one of the most heavily militarised borders in the world after getting lost at a religious festival.
But her luck changed when the Edhis decided to capitalise on interest in the release of Bajrangi Bhaijaan this summer to republicise her plight.
It led to fresh leads, including a family in the Indian state of Bihar which Geeta enthusiastically recognised as her own after Indian diplomats in Islamabad arranged for photographs to be sent to the Edhi Foundation.
Their version of events, however, is that their daughter was married and had a child when she left home. It is at odds with what Geeta has communicated about herself though sign language.
After arriving in the Indian capital the foreign minister Swaraj said Geeta was “refusing to recognise her family”. “It doesn’t matter if we find her parents or not, she is a daughter of India and we will take care of her,” Swaraj told journalists.

Members of the Bihar family were present at the airport on Monday morning to try and greet the young woman.

“It’s been a long wait,” said Vinod Kumar, who claims to be her brother. “We thank both the countries for their efforts to unite Geeta with the family.”

Although an evening reception in her honour at the Pakistani High Commission in Delhi was cancelled in light of the deadly earthquake that struck the region on Monday, Geeta had a busy first day back in India, which culminated in a meeting with prime minister Narendra Modi.

“It was truly wonderful to have you back home,” he tweeted to his 15.7m followers, in addition to praising the Edhis for looking after her.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 26, 2015
Welcome Geeta. It is truly wonderful to have you back home. Was truly a delight to spend time with you today. pic.twitter.com/DngJF2Tk31
The effort to repatriate her comes at a time when both countries have accused each other of supporting terrorist groups and have struggled to conduct normal business, including striking agreements on international cricket fixtures.
Relations have also been soured by increasingly strident anti-Pakistan agitation by far-right Hindu nationalists. On Saturday a play featuring Pakistani actors in Delhi was disrupted by activists.

Minutes after Pakistan’s foreign ministry published a statement wishing Geeta well on Monday, the government in Islamabad announced it had summoned a top Indian diplomat for a dressing down over “unprovoked ceasefire violations” along a section of the border contested by Pakistan.

Pakistan said a 15-year-old girl was among the three people killed in the firing, calling it a “detestable and deplorable act”.