`Efforts on in Pak to send deaf and mute Indian girl`

Last Updated: Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - 10:09

Karachi: The Sindh government has established contact with a well known welfare foundation to obtain details of a deaf and mute Indian woman, who had inadvertently strayed into Pakistan at least 13 years ago, as efforts were being made to send her back to her native place.

An official of the Edhi trust foundation which has taken care of Geeta for the last few years and has housed her in Karachi for the last six months said there had been inquiries from authorities about the Indian girl.

"They have taken her details and are apparently some efforts are on to help her safely reach her home in India," the official said.

Geeta who is just 21, strayed into Pakistan when she mistakenly boarded a train from Amritsar which came into Lahore where she was taken into custody.

"She is deaf and mute and clearly disoriented but in last six months she has improved her communication skills a lot and we are hopeful in next few weeks she will be able to tell us about her family and home in India," Bilqees Edhi, the wife of the noted social worker Sattar Edhi, who takes care of Geeta, said.

Bilqees has even taken Geeta into her home to help her settle down and live a normal life.

"She had a bad time when she was first detained in Lahore and kept at a shelter there after which we brought her to Karachi," she said.

Geeta is clearly desperate to get back to India and has made some attempts to escape but each time has brought back to the Edhi trust as she is unable to give any details of her life in India or her family.

Saram Burney a human rights activist who has campaigned for the return of poor Indian fishermen in Pakistani jails to their homeland believes that Geeta can return home.

"She is disoriented and it is difficult getting information from her but she is now able to write down things in Hindi language," he said.

Short and thin with a pale complexion, Geeta converses through sign language and greets everyone in the usual Hindi custom of touching feet of elders or pressing her two palms together close to her heart in the gesture of namaste.

According to Geeta she had a fight with her parents and ran from home but than lost direction and scared and homeless landed up at the railway station and boarded a train to get some sleep and dozed off.

The Hindu girl can convey that her home is next to a river and behind a hospital and restaurant.

Bilqees said India is a big country and finding out her exact home location is difficult without any help from Geeta.

The Pakistan Human Rights Commission has also come into the picture and are trying to set up a meeting with the Indian High Commissioner to take up Geeta`s case and helping her to find her family.

"These small gestures of helping each other`s helpless and homeless people can a long way in improving relations and people to people contacts between both countries," according to Zohra Yousuf the chairperson of the commission.

The Edhi trust said there have been other cases of Indian children straying into Pakistani territory.

For now Geeta passes her time watching Indian serials on television and helping Bilqees and her family with the daily chores.

The girl not only fasts with the rest of the family in Ramazan but also offers her Hindu prayers at a small shrine built on a verandah of the Edhi home.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - 10:08

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