Bollywood hit Bajrangi Bhaijaan may have been a work of fiction, but in Karachi it is a real life story of an Indian girl who can neither speak nor hear and stuck in Pakistan for 13 years with all efforts to trace her family in Indiaremaining unsuccessful.
“The Punjab Rangers brought her to us some 13 years ago,” said Faisal Edhi of the social welfare group Edhi Foundation.
“For years, we have been trying to locate her family or her hometown so that she can return,” Faisal was quoted as saying by the Express Tribune newspaper.
First brought to an Edhi Centre in Lahore, the girl was shifted to the shelter in Karachi where Bilquis Edhi named her ‘Geeta’ and has become quite close to the girl.
Now 23-year-old, Geeta is believed to have mistakenly crossed into Pakistani territory as a child.
“The only communication she has managed with the Edhi staff is recognising the Indian map on a mobile phone and breaking down into tears,” the paper said.
“Sobbing silently, she frantically points first at the Indian state of Jharkhand and then at Telangana, trying hard to tell something of her past that may be a clue for them.”
Using her fingers and facial expression, Geeta says she has seven brothers and four sisters. “We have shown her writings to people but nothing has come out of it. She copies Hindi words from magazines,” Faisal said.
The shelter home’s staff have created a separate praying room for her, adorning it with colourful posters of Hindu deities. “This is the Ganesh that I got for her from Nepal,” Faisal said pointing toward one of the figurines.
With the success of the Salman Khan-starrer ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’, activists are making more efforts to reunite Geeta with her family in India.
Human rights activist and former minister Ansar Burney, who has raised Geeta’s issue three years ago during a visit to India, is now running a Facebook campaign for her.
“Last year, officials from the Indian Consulate visited her, took her picture and records but they didn’t come back,” said Faisal. Journalists, including one from India, also interviewed her but no one was able to locate her family.
The foundation activists persuaded Geeta to begin a new life in Pakistan by getting married to a Hindu boy. In her sign language, she refused and made it clear that she will only get married once she returns home.
Amongst Geeta’s writings, the numbers ‘193’ make a frequent appearance. Faisal draws a house on a piece of paper and hands her a pen. Geeta takes it, smiles, and jots down the numbers beside it. ‘193’, it seems, may be her house number, the paper added.
Salman’s movie revolves around a speech-impaired girl from Pakistan who finds herself lost in India with no way to return her home. An Indian man undertakes the task and reunites her with her family in Pakistan.