12 years after girl strayed into Pakistan, woman going home

AP News
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Posted: Oct 15, 2015 9:07 AM

NEW DELHI (AP) — An Indian woman who accidently crossed the border into Pakistan as a child nearly 12 years ago will return home soon, an Indian official said Thursday.

Vikas Swarup, India's External Affairs Ministry spokesman, said the woman named Geeta would come after her travel documents are sorted out.

She will return to her family after a DNA test in India, Swarup said.

Geeta is deaf and mute and while in Pakistan she has been looked after by the charitable Edhi Foundation in Karachi.

In her room, she prays before a tiny temple filled with Hindu gods.

Anwar Kazmi, a spokesman for the Edhi Foundation, said in Karachi that Geeta would go back to her country on Oct. 26.

He said Geeta was around 11 when she inadvertently entered Pakistan.

"Since then, we have been trying to trace her family. Finally, we have succeeded and Geeta is very happy. We have told her that her travel documents are being prepared," he said.

"She recognized her family members through pictures, which were provided to us by the Indian High Commission," he said.

A man identified by Geeta as her father says she was lost in a village fair, a New Delhi news channel said. Both countries have villages close to the border, and Indians and Pakistanis have often strayed across the boundary.

"Geeta will be back in India soon. We have located her family. She will be handed over to them only after the DNA test," India's External Affairs Sushma Swaraj tweeted Thursday.

Swarup said the government has identified two institutions which are meant for people like Geeta with disabilities in case the DNA test was not conclusive.

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Associated Press writer Munir Ahmed contributed to this report from Islamabad, Pakistan.