Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed gratitude on the return of Geeta, the deaf and mute Indian girl who was stranded in Pakistan for more than a decade, and thanked the Edhi family for taking care of her, agencies said.
Modi announced a contribution of Rs 10 million for the Edhi Foundation.
“What the Edhi family has done is too priceless to be measured but I am happy to announce a contribution of Rs 10 million for their foundation,” he tweeted Monday.
The Indian premier welcomed Geeta and said “it was truly wonderful to have her back home”.
Modi also telephoned Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and thanked him for the efforts in ensuring Geeta’s safe return home.
The young woman smiled, waved and fought back tears after landing at New Delhi airport clutching bouquets of flowers and escorted by charity workers and officials.
She was hopeful of being reunited with her long-lost family after identifying them earlier this month in photographs delivered by Indian officials in Pakistan.
The tragic twist
But in a tragic twist just hours after arriving in Delhi, Geeta told officials she did not know the Mahato family from India’s eastern state of Bihar.
“She recognized one family after we showed her their pictures. But after meeting the Mahato family today, she could not recognize them,” Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said at a press conference alongside Geeta.
Geeta remained upbeat despite the disappointment, with a sign language interpreter saying: “She used to be sad in Pakistan but after coming here she is happy. “Swaraj said Geeta would be placed in an institution if DNA test results confirmed that the family was not hers and would keep searching for her real one.
“The family has submitted their blood samples and Geeta has also given her samples. We will have scientific proof before handing her to any family,” she said.
Wearing a red tunic, her head loosely covered with a matching stole, Geeta, now 23, carried a big bouquet of flowers given to her by officials from India’s Ministry of External Affairs.
“We are elated to meet her. It’s been a long wait. We thank both the countries for their efforts to unite Geeta with the family,” Vinod Kumar, who says he is her brother, told reporters as he waited at the airport to greet her.
Foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said on Twitter “a daughter returns home. Geeta arrives in New Delhi accompanied by members of Edhi Foundation.”
Before boarding a Pakistan International Airlines flight to the Indian capital, a beaming Geeta thanked the Pakistani people for hosting and taking care of her throughout the years.
Addressing a press conference alongside Geeta before her departure, Faisal Edhi of the Edhi foundation said they would continue to stay in touch with Geeta through social media and even visiting her.
“She is not really separating from us,” he said.
Bilquis Edhi and her grandchildren, Saba and Saad Edhi, accompanied Geeta to New Delhi.