Deaf and mute Indian girl stuck in Pakistan for 13 years 'identifies family' from photo

Prabhat K. Jain (left), second secretary at the High Commission of India in Pakistan, shows Geeta, a Hindu deaf-mute woman, pictures of families in India who have claimed to be her parents and siblings, during his visit to the Bilquis Edhi Foundation
Prabhat K. Jain (left), second secretary at the High Commission of India in Pakistan, shows Geeta, a Hindu deaf-mute woman, pictures of families in India who have claimed to be her parents and siblings, during his visit to the Bilquis Edhi Foundation in Karachi on Sept 9, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI (AFP) - A mute and deaf Indian girl who has been stuck in Pakistan for 13 years because she cannot remember where she came from may have finally identified her family, the charity looking after her said on Thursday (Oct 15).

The new ray of hope for the woman known only as Geeta, believed to be in her early 20s, came after the Indian High Commission in Islamabad sent her a photograph of a family, whom she said she recognised.

The Edhi Foundation, Pakistan's largest welfare organisation who has been caring for Geeta since she was found 13 years ago, said it was trying to arrange a Skype video call with the family, reported to be based somewhere in India's Bihar province, to confirm their relationship.

Geeta was 11 or 12 when she was found by police alone and disorientated with no identity papers on a train that had crossed the border from India into the eastern city of Lahore.

She was believed to have strayed into Pakistani territory by mistake, but could not remember or explain exactly where she was from.

Unable to identify her or her family, Pakistani police handed her over to the Edhi Foundation. She now lives in one of the foundation's shelters in Karachi.

Even the name "Geeta" was given to her by Edhi staff.

"The Indian high commissioner has lately sent a family photo to us and Geeta has recognised the family," Anwer Kazmi, a senior official at the foundation, told Agence France-Presse.

"We have showed the picture to Geeta and she says they are her family," Mr Kazmi said.

"We hope she will confirm the family identification during the Skype chat through sign language," Mr Kazmi said.

It was not clear when the Skype chat would be held.

In August, the Indian government pledged to bring Geeta home, prompted by fresh media coverage of a smash hit Bollywood film.

"Bajrangi Bhaijaan", featuring Indian superstars Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor, tells the mirror image of Geeta's story: a mute young Pakistani woman trapped in India.

The Edhi foundation has made repeated attempts to trace Geeta's family, but with no success.