Woman Stranded 13 Years After Crossing Border Goes Home

Deaf-mute woman Geeta was only 11 when she wandered into Pakistan
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 26, 2015 6:03 AM CDT

(Newser) – Geeta was about 11 when she somehow crossed the militarized border between India and Pakistan. A deaf-mute Indian girl, Geeta couldn't explain exactly what happened, but mimed an explosion, ducking out of the way, and then her discovery at the Lahore railway station, report Reuters and the Indian Express. Assuming she was from Pakistan, officials placed her in a children's home in Lahore and renamed her Fatima. She would often point to India’s Jharkhand State on a map, leading officials to believe she was indeed from India, but it was only in August—13 years after she strayed into Pakistan—that her home country acknowledged Geeta was among its citizens and a search for her family began, per the BBC. Now in her 20s, Geeta was reunited with individuals she had identified in photographs in New Delhi on Monday.

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"Geeta stayed with us for 13 years. Now it's time for her to go home," a rep for the Pakistani charity that cared for Geeta says. After smiling and waving to cameras, Geeta was greeted by Janardhan Mahato from Bihar, who says he is her father, and another man who says he is her brother, though at least two families claim she is their daughter. "If the DNA doesn't match, the Indian authorities will continue the search for her family," the charity rep says. "I don't care about how many tests they want, if she embraces me that will be the biggest test for me," says Mahato. "I spent five years looking for her in Ludhiana and have spent the last six years mourning. This is like rebirth for our family." If DNA tests prove negative, officials say Geeta will be kept at a shelter home in India while her long-lost family members are found. (Read more India stories.)

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