GEETA, THE hearing-and speech-impaired woman who returned to India in 2015 after accidentally reaching Pakistan as a child, will get married soon and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan can do the kanyadaan, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj suggested in Bhopal on Saturday. Swaraj was instrumental in getting Geeta, now around 25, back from Pakistan. Lok Sabha MP from Vidisha, near the state capital, Swaraj often meets the young woman when she is in Bhopal.
On Wednesday, when Geeta met Swaraj at her bungalow in Bhopal, the minister said that a suitable match will be found for her. Turning to Chief Minister Chouhan, who was sitting next to her, Swaraj said, “…and maama (maternal uncle) will do the kanyadaan.”
Chouhan loves to call himself maama to boys and girls in the state. Geeta’s caretakers at Indore’s Deaf Bilingual Academy said that Geeta has repeatedly expressed her desire to get married. Geeta was brought from Indore to Bhopal on Saturday to meet the NDA’s Presidential candidate, Ram Nath Kovind, who was here to campaign among MPs and MLAs in the BJP-governed state.
Talking through interpreters, Geeta reiterated that she does not want to ever go back to Pakistan. “I am an Indian, and I belong to the nation of Mahatma Gandhi,’’ her interpreters quoted her. Murlidhar Dhamani, president of the Indore academy, said, “She was well taken care of in Pakistan but she was not educated. She hardly knew sign language when she came here.” He denied reports that Geeta has lost interest in education and gets irritable often. He said she moves freely and interacts with other students, and is now learning English and Hindi as well.
Swaraj had earlier promised that the government will make every effort to trace Geeta’s parents. Since her return on October 26, 2015, about a dozen couples have claimed that she was their daughter, but Geeta did not recognise them. Their DNA samples, too, did not match.
Geeta was reportedly seven or eight when she was found by Pakistani Rangers officials, sitting alone on the Samjhauta Express at Lahore railway station. She was adopted by Bilquees Edhi of Edhi Foundation, a non-profit welfare organisation, and lived with her in Karachi.