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Sushma thanks Edhi foundation for safeguarding Geeta’s religion

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New Delhi, Oct. 26 : Expressing her gratitude towards the Edhi Foundation for taking care of Geeta during her stay in Pakistan, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday said that institution’s founders Abdul Sattar Edhi and Bilquis Edhi had not only given ‘motherly love’ to the girl but also safeguarded her religion.

“Today is a day of great happiness, after years our Geeta has returned to her homeland. India welcomes its daughter back home. I would like to thank the Edhi foundation, I would like to thank Abdul Sattar Edhi and Bilquis Edhi, you not only gave her mother’s love but also protected her faith,” Swaraj said at a press conference here.

The External Affairs Minister said that the process to bring back Geeta started after a news channel reported about her.

“Sometime back there was a TV report saying that a girl had gone across the border by mistake and she wants to come back. She was in the Edhi Foundation there. I immediately asked Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan Raghavan ji to look into the matter,” Swaraj said.

“He went to Karachi, inquired there and told me that the girl is definitely Indian and she wants to come to India. She gave him some information about her home and surroundings,” she added.

Swaraj further said that Geeta had failed to recognise the photographs of two families, which had claimed that she was their daughter.

“We started searching for her family. Four couple claimed that Geeta was their daughter, they were all from different regions, from Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand. I asked the state governments to find out the truth,” she said.

“Some of them were ruled out as facts did not corroborate with what Geeta had said. We then sent the photographs of parents from Pratapgarh and Telangana to Pakistan, Geeta failed to recognise both of them. After that the Mahato couple met and said that Geeta is their daughter,” she added.

Swaraj said that Geeta finally recognised the members of Mahato family.

“We sent their photos to Geeta and she recognised them, she asked for photographs of her siblings. She recognised a few of them. We decided that we would bring her back, but also thought that there has to a scientific way to establish her relationship with parents,” Swaraj said.

“We decided to conduct DNA testing of both. We took Mahato couple’s blood samples and collected Geeta’s blood sample also today, we have sent both for testing,” she added.

Swaraj said that Geeta, who arrived here a short while back, will be kept in an institution in Indore as she has failed to recognise Mahato couple. She will be under the care of the government till DNA tests establish Geeta’s parentage.

Geeta had strayed into Pakistan at the age of 11 and was handed over to the Edhi Foundation by the police, who found her at Lahore railway station.

Escorted by five members of the Edhi Foundation, Geeta arrived at the IGI airport in the national capital today. (ANI)