CHANDIGARH (TIP): As if straight out of the script of the recent tinsel town flick “Bajrangi Bhaijaan”, the real life story of a speech and hearing disabled Indian girl Geeta, who got separated from her parents after straying into Pakistan 14-years ago, has taken a curious turn.
Amid efforts to locate the parents of the girl in India following the assurance by Union Minister Sushma Swaraj, a couple in Amritsar have come forward to claim that Geeta is their lost daughter. The couple, living in a slum-dwelling unit near Rigo bridge in the city, too are speech and hearing impaired and earn a living picking rag and seeking alms. What has made the developments even more curious is that Geeta has denied that the couple are her parents after she saw them on television. The migrant couple, Rajesh Kumar and Ram Dulari, who communicate through their son Raju, 14, say her real name is not Geeta but Pooja. The couple say they migrated from Bihar to Punjab in search of work about two decades ago. Ever since she strayed into Pakistan at a tender age of about four, Geeta has lived under the support and patronage of Edhi Foundation in Karachi. She communicates in sign language, but can read and write Hindi. Geeta has high resemblance with “her mother” Ram Durali.
The couple said they lost their daughter when she was small and did not have the wherewithal to locate her. A private TV channel contacted Edhi Foundation in Pakistan to see if the claim by the Indian couple is true. Geeta, through her interpreter in Karachi, has said that she did not recognise them as her parents. She said her parents were not from Bihar, instead from Jharkhand, and her mother wore sarees not Punjabi suits as she was shown on the television. The family in Amritsar claims Pooja alias Geeta use to beg at the railway station and must have accidentally boarded the peace train that goes to Pakistan from the Attari border in Punjab.
Indian envoy in Pakistan, Dr TCA Raghavan has already visited Edhi Foundation and met Geeta there. An assurance has been given by the Indian authorities to locate the parents of the girl expeditiously.