Elated over Geeta’s return from Pakistan after a gap of 15 years, the Mahatos from Bihar today turned up at the Indira Gandhi International Airport to accord a warm welcome to their “family member”, only to be left dejected hours later as she refused to recognise them.
As Geeta made her way out of the ceremonial lounge of IGI around 11.30 PM, the family tried to make their way forward carrying rose petals and marigold garlands but she was whisked away by security personnel.
Later, addressing a press conference, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said Geeta refused to identify the Mahatos as her family. Earlier, she had identified them through pictures sent by the Indian High Commission in Pakistan.
Talking to a huge media posse outside the lounge, one Manoj, who claimed to be Geeta’s brother, expressed his “disappointment” over not being given the chance to garland the 23-year-old.
“We want to meet her. Wanted to welcome her properly. It’s a great moment for us. We had lost all hope. Want to thank the media, foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, our lawyer. It’s like lord Rama’s homecoming after spending 14 years in exile. This is our Diwali,” he said.
Contrary to her categorical denials in this regard, he also claimed that Geeta was married and used to live with her husband when she got lost from a “Baisakhi fair”.
Janardhan Mahato, who claims to be her father, thanked Swaraj and Pakistani officials for ensuring her return. “She will recognise us all and will embrace us the moment we meet her. She is not a girl anymore, she’s god.”
Geeta was reportedly just 7 or 8 years old when she was found sitting alone on the Samjhauta Express by the Pakistan Rangers 15 years ago at the Lahore railway station.
Indian government has said that Geeta would be handed over to the rightful family only after DNA test.