NEW DELHI -- For the past fifteen years, human rights lawyer Ansar Burney has been searching for the family of an Indian girl, who reached Pakistan over a decade ago, and now External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has given impetus to his quest.
Swaraj tweeted today that the Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan will meet 23-year-old Geeta, who has a hearing and speech disability. The Indian Express reported that Geeta was 11-years-old when she was spotted by the Pakistan Rangers in Lahore after straying across the border.
Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan Dr.TCA Raghavan is reaching Karachi and will meet Geeta today.— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) August 4, 2015
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
Geeta's story resurfaced after the release of Salman Khan's film Bajrangi Bhaijaan, which has a fictional plot about a speech-impaired Pakistani girl, who is lost in India.
In search of a family of missing Indian girl Geeta alias Guddy I myself visited India in October 2012 & since working on this matter— Ansar Burney (@AnsarBurney) August 3, 2015
Sleeping People awake after 15 years, when struggle of search of a family of missing Indian girl Geeta was started by Ansar Burney Trust— Ansar Burney (@AnsarBurney) August 3, 2015
"She is a devout Hindu and has even put up colourful posters of Hindu deities, and an earthen lamp on the table," Burney told the Press Trust of India.
Earlier this week, PTI reported that the Pakistani Rangers brought Geeta to the Edhi Foundation, a well-known social welfare group, which has been taking care of the Indian girl for years.
The young girl was shifted from the Edhi Centre in Lahore to Karachi where Bilquis Edhi, who runs the Edhi Foundation, named her Geeta.
Using her fingers and facial expression, Geeta has communicated that she has seven brothers and four sisters, but she has not able to provide information which could help in finding her home. Geeta often writes the number 193, which, her caregivers suspect could be a house number.
"We have shown her writings to people but nothing has come out of it. She copies Hindi words from magazines," Faisal Edhi, who helps his parents run the foundation, told PTI. "Last year, officials from the Indian Consulate visited her, took her picture and records but they didn't come back."
Edhi told The Indian Express that Geeta’s life “inspired Bollywood to shoot a flick clearly based on her story”.
“The Pak rangers did not take her to the jail. They got in touch with my father and asked us to take care of her stating she that appeared to have lost her way. She indicated to us that she was lost during a fair of Goddess ‘Sheran Wali’. She even drew a ‘Shivlingam’ on a paper, asking us to take her there. She continues to be a Hindu, eats vegetarian food," Edhi told the newspaper.
"We have set up a small temple in our shelter home for her to pray. I went to Kathmandu recently and got her an idol of Lord Ganesha. She herself started offering namaaz with us and observing fasts during Ramzan. She looks forward to going back home,” he said.