President calls Geeta ‘symbol of India-Pakistan unity’ (Roundup)

New Delhi, Oct 27 (IANS) A day after returning to India from Pakistan where she was stranded for years, speech and hearing impaired Geeta met President Pranab Mukherjee — who called her “a symbol of India-Pakistan unity” — and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and took a ride on Delhi Metro.

“You are the daughter of both our countries, a symbol of India-Pakistan unity. God has listened to your prayers,” Mukherjee told the 23-year-old when she called on him at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

A Rashtrapati Bhavan statement said Mukherjee blessed Geeta, a Hindu who strayed into Pakistan when she was around 11 years old in 2003. Pakistan Rangers promptly handed her over to the Edhi Foundation that took care of her since then.

Unable to explain who she was and from where she came, Geeta began living in Pakistan, and grew from a teenager to a young adult.

The president also thanked Bilquis Bano Edhi and the Edhi Foundation for their good work in Pakistan.

Before meeting the president, Geeta met Delhi Chief Minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, who asked her about her life in Pakistan and how she strayed into that country.

At both meetings, Geeta was accompanied by members of Edhi Foundation.

Geeta, who interacted with everyone with the help of a facilitator, later took a ride on Delhi Metro, travelling from the Civil Lines station in the city’s north to Patel Chowk station in the heart of the capital.

At the Patel Chowk station, she was taken around the Delhi Metro museum.

On Monday, Geeta flew into New Delhi on Pakistan International Airlines to begin a new life on her home soil.

Among the first people she called on were External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who had taken a keen interest on her return, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Modi thanked Bilquis Edhi, wife of Karachi-based Edhi Foundation founder Abdul Sattar Edhi, for taking care of Geeta in Pakistan. He also announced a Rs.1 crore rupee donation for the foundation.

On Tuesday, the NGO declined to accept the money.

“Edhi has thanked Modi and politely declined to accept his announced financial help,” the Dawn quoted Edhi Foundation spokesman Anwar Kazmi as saying.

“What the Edhi family has done is too priceless to be measured but I am happy to announce a contribution of Rs.1 crore for their foundation,” Modi had tweeted on Monday.

Edhi Foundation is a social welfare organisation known for its extensive social work.

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