Woman back in India 12 years after straying into Pakistan

NEW DELHI: A deaf and mute Indian woman who accidently strayed into Pakistan as a child 12 years ago arrived in New Delhi on Monday hoping to be reunited with her family, beaming as she was greeted at the airport by scores of well-wishers.

Wearing a red tunic, her head loosely covered with a matching stole, Geeta, now 23, waved to the schoolchildren and others who had gathered to see her after her arrival. She was carrying a big bouquet of flowers given to her by officials from India's Ministry of External Affairs.

Geeta, who goes by one name, was accompanied on the Pakistan International Airlines flight from Karachi by officials from the Edhi Foundation, the Pakistani charity that has cared for her since she was handed over by authorities after she accidentally crossed into the country in 2003.

"About two weeks ago, Geeta identified her family after seeing some pictures provided to us by Indian diplomats," the charity's spokesman, Faisal Edhi, told The Associated Press in Islamabad. "She was very happy over it."

In addition to the family in the pictures that Geeta identified, Indian media have reported that another man is claiming to be Geeta's father.

In New Delhi, Geeta will undergo two sets of DNA tests to ensure that she is reunited with her own parents, said Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

The government has also identified two welfare homes for people with disabilities, and Geeta could be sent to one of them if the DNA tests are not conclusive, Swaraj said.