External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today said that two more families have claimed Geeta, a hearing and speech impaired girl who returned from Pakistan last month, to be their daughter but she has refused to identify one of them on the basis of their photographs.
Swaraj also said that efforts will be intensified to trace Geeta’s real parents, which will include exhibiting her photographs in her childhood hair style.
Swaraj met Geeta who has been staying with an organisation working for the cause of deaf and mute children here since her return from Pakistan.
“We are trying our best to locate parents of Geeta. Two families, including one from Bihar, have claimed that they are her family members,” Swaraj told reporters.
The minister said Geeta refused to recognise the photograph of a Muslim family, but sought more time to go through another photograph.
Swaraj said that at least four families from Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab had also claimed Geeta to be their daughter, but their claims could not be proved.
Among the four families was Bihar’s Janardhan Mehto whose DNA didn’t match with Geeta.
“However, my efforts will continue till I find her real parents. I am hopeful and confident on the issue,” the minister said.
Swaraj also sought to fend off criticism of government by some quarters over keeping Geeta in the city-based organisation for the children with hearing and speech impairments.
“Some people ask why the government brought Geeta from Pakistan’s Edhi Foundation and kept her in the organisation in Indore. However, there is a major difference in staying in the Pakistani organisation and with the one in her own country.
“In Pakistan, she was staying in a place which was not meant for people like her, but here in Indore she is among those who are like her and she will gradually gain confidence that even without being able to hear and speak, she can become self-dependent and can lead a good life,” Swaraj said.
Geeta had inadvertently crossed the Indian border through Samjhouta Express over a decade ago.
Swaraj also asked office-bearers of the organisation to interact with Geeta in sign language and find out what was her hair style when she had crossed the border.
“We will take her photographs in that hair style and exhibit them. It might help us in locating her parents,” she said.
The minister also expressed her gratitude towards Pakistan and Edhi Foundation for ensuring Geeta’s return to India.