A deaf and dumb Indian girl, who was rescued by a social welfare organisation in Pakistan after she mistakenly ended up in this country before being sent back to India in 2015, has finally been reunited with her real mother in Maharashtra.
Bilquees Edhi the wife of late Abdul Sattar Edhi, who now runs the world famous Edhi Welfare Trust and who developed a close bond with Geeta (29) said the Indian girl had finally been reunited with her real mother in Maharashtra state, Dawn newspaper reported.
“She has been in touch with me and this weekend she finally told me the good news about meeting her real mother,” Ms. Bilquees said.
“Her real name is Radha Waghmare and she found her mother in Naigaon village in the state of Maharashtra,” she also confirmed to PTI.
Geeta captured the attention of the media and governments in both countries in 2015 but according to Ms. Bilquees they had found Geeta when she was around 11-12 years old at a railway station and gave her shelter at their centre in Karachi. “Somehow she strayed into Pakistan and was shelterless when we found her in Karachi,” she said.
“She stayed at the Edhi centre for years and I took care of her and we named her Fatima later when I realised she was a Hindu we named her Geeta and even though she couldn’t speak or hear but we communicated properly through sign language,” Ms. Bilquees said.
In 2015, after Geeta’s story broke out, the late External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, made arrangements for her to be flown back home.
Ms. Bilquees said that it had taken nearly four and half years for Geeta to find her real parents.“Geeta has also recognised her mother and she lives with her family in Naigaon village now. Her biological father died a few years back so her mother, Meena remarried,” she said.
The over five-year-long search to find Geeta's family led to Parbhani in Maharashtra, where she is now being trained in sign language by Pahal, an NGO working for the hearing and speech impaired.
Speaking to PTI, Dr Anand Selgaokar of Pahal said Geeta was handed over to Anand Services Society, another Indore-based NGO, on July 20, 2020 and Gyanendra Purohit of that NGO first came to Parbhani in December last year.
The search in the last five years involved screening process of at least a dozen families from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Telangana and Rajasthan after claims that they were Geeta’s blood relations.
Mr. Purohit said the search led the NGO to Meena Waghmare (71) who lived in Jintur in Parbhani district, when her daughter Radha (Geeta) went missing. "Meena told us that her daughter has a burn mark on her stomach and when we checked, it turned out to be true," Mr. Purohit said.
Geeta's father and Meena's first husband Sudhakar Waghmare died some years ago and she now lives near Aurangabad with her second husband. Tears rolled down Meena's eyes as she met Geeta for the first time, he said.
Geeta did not understand a word of what Meena said as being speech and hearing impaired, she communicates only through sign language.
It is likely that Geeta reached Parbhani and boarded the Sachkhand Express to Amritsar and later boarded the Delhi-Lahore Samjhauta Express, Mr. Selgaonkar said.
Geeta has now spent around a month-and-a-half in Parbhani and often meets with Meena and the latter's married daughter, who also lives in the Marathwada region. "It is for the government authorities to decide on when to conduct a DNA test. Till then Geeta will continue to receive training at Pahal," Mr. Selgaonkar said.
Ms. Bilquees said she was just happy that Geeta who was like a daughter to her had finally reunited with her real family. “To be lost for such a long time from your family is difficult for anyone and especially for someone special like Geeta,” she added.