The 13-year-long wait for aurally and speech-challenged Geeta of Karachi’s Edhi Foundation is expected to end on October 26 with her planned journey to Delhi. But the Edhi Foundation has expressed serious doubts over Geeta’s post-return life in India, especially since no Indian family has definitively been discovered as Geeta’s own. They fear that Geeta will be a victim of the public relations exercise of India-Pakistan diplomacy.
The Edhi Foundation has told The Hindu that they remain unconvinced about the authenticity of a family from Bihar that claimed Geeta as their daughter who was lost when she wandered away to the India-Pakistan borders in Punjab.
“It is the initiative and drive of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj that are forcing us to send Geeta to Delhi. The Indian authorities should first ascertain the parental home of Geeta before taking her away,” said Faisal Edhi, managing trustee of the Edhi Foundation.
Faisal Edhi, who is the son of the founders of the Edhi Foundation, Bilquis and Abdul Sattar Edhi, says that Geeta is under psychological pressure to accept the proposal from Ms Swaraj as she has also begun to believe that the Minister knows better.
“We have been championing Geeta’s return to her family in India, but do not want her to be with a family that is not her own. As far as Geeta’s family is concerned, she has one in the Edhis. That is why my mother Bilquis Edhi, who is extremely fond of Geeta, will travel with her and meet Sushma Swaraj in Delhi on October 26,” he said.
Official sources in the Ministry of External Affairs, however, told The Hindu that Geeta would be sent to the family from Bihar only if DNA tests prove that they and Geeta are related. In response, Mr Edhi says the DNA tests could be done without taking Geeta away from her current comfort zone as she is a person with special needs.
The major reason behind the doubts expressed by the Edhis lies in the fact that Geeta herself began her stay at Edhi Foundation by stating that her mother in India passed away at an early age and her father was an elderly person who required a walking stick. “Therefore, the big question is, if Geeta herself believed that her father was an elderly man, then who is this man who is not that elderly, claiming her as his daughter?” Mr Edhi said over a phone call.
The Edhis have a cross-Pakistan network of charity homes much like the Missionaries of Charity founded by Mother Teresa of Kolkata. Abdul Sattar Edhi, the founder of the organisation, is known as the “Mother Teresa of Pakistan”. It was to the orphanage of the Edhi Foundation in Lahore that Geeta was brought by the Pakistan Rangers in 2003. “We have looked after Geeta since she was brought to us by the Rangers and she can stay with us for as long as she wants. After all, this is her home,” Mr Edhi said, emphasising that as a woman with special needs, Geeta needed special attention and should not be given away without first checking the background of those who are demanding to give her a new home.