Wednesday, April 21, 2021

5 years on, Geeta may be reunited with family

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Hearing and speech impaired Geeta, who was repatriated from Pakistan in 2015, might soon be reunited with her family in Maharashtra, an official in Madhya Pradesh’s social justice department said on Wednesday.

A DNA test to ascertain the parentage is yet to be done, Suchita Tirkey, joint director of MP’s social justice department.

Geeta was found on the Samjhauta Express in Lahore in 2000. Since then, she was living at the Karachi centre of Edhi Welfare Trust, from where she was repatriated to India with the help of late former foreign affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.

Since her return to India, more than 24 couples claimed Geeta was their daughter. However, DNA tests of none of them matched with her.

Gyanendra Purohit, convenor of the Indore centre of Anand Foundation said that 71-year-old Meena Dinkar Pandhare, a resident of Maharashtra’s Naigaon, has claimed Geeta is her daughter from her first marriage.

“Everything which Geeta shared about her childhood memories — sugarcane fields, maternity home in front of a railway station, diesel engine and food habits — matched with that of Pandhare’s village,” Purohit said.

We believed Meena’s claim when she said that Geeta must have a burnt mark on her stomach, Purohit said. “Geeta was not keen to confirm the birthmark but when a woman police constable checked, she found the exact mark on her stomach,” he said.

Meena lived in Jintur in Parbhani district when her daughter, Radha, went missing.

In July last year, officials at the Anand Foundation began a fresh search for Geeta’s parents with the help of her facial features, food habits and childhood memories.

In October 2020, when they rescued another girl from MP’s Dewas district, the officials realized that Geeta may be from Maharashtra. “The girl also had a right nose piercing like Geeta. We asked her whereabouts and the girl informed that she belonged to Marathawada. We got in touch with Pahal Foundation of Parbhani in Marathawada, which also works for speech and hearing-impaired people, and sought their help to find Geeta’s parents,” said Purohit.

“In December, Meena, who is illiterate and knows only Marathi, contacted us that her daughter went missing in 1999-2000. Geeta also confirmed everything Meena said but when she came to know about her economic condition, she was reluctant to move in with her mother. However, the mother visits the shelter frequently with food,” he said.

Pahal foundation convener Aniket Salgaoncar said, “We are happy that Geeta found her mother. But she doesn’t want to move with her mother, and it is obvious because she met her mother after 20 years. She wanted to do a job so we are providing skill training to her.”

Bilquees Edhi of the Edhi Welfare Trust said she has been in touch with Geeta, media reports said. “She has been in touch with me and this weekend she finally told me the good news about meeting her real mother,” Bilquees said.

“Her real name is Radha Waghmare and she found her mother in Naigaon village in the state of Maharashtra,” news agency PTI quoted her as saying.

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