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Last Updated: Monday, 4 August, 2003, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK
Indian woman's long journey home
By Jonathan Beale
BBC correspondent in Delhi

A woman who was abducted as a child in India and then taken to Switzerland by her adopted parents has made a remarkable journey to find her roots.

Shezadi Reist traced her biological parents with the help of Indian police and using DNA.

She has now made the emotional journey back to India to meet them.

Ms Reist was abducted by her uncle from her home in Jaunpur, northern India, when she was just six years old.

He took her to a railway station in Varanasi, but she managed to break free and jump on board a train heading for Calcutta. There she was found weeping by police, who put her into care.

A few months later, a Swiss couple adopted her.

She spent the next 23 years of her life in Switzerland, where she studied and eventually got married.

Religious clue

But flashbacks of her past life in India continued to haunt her.

She remembered her father was a barber and that her mother would only cook at night for a month of the year.

It provided the clue that they must have been Muslims.

She then wrote to the Delhi police early last year asking them to help her trace her biological parents.

Indian Muslims
Memories of Ramadan provided a clue to Reist's origins
The details were given out in a press briefing which were published in a magazine.

Her father was told by a friend and suggested it could be the daughter he lost in 1980.

He contacted the police who passed the information on to Ms Reist, but her foster parents refused to give her permission to meet the family until they got confirmation through a DNA test, the Indian Express reported.

The DNA tests confirmed that she was indeed the daughter of the family from Madiaon and she finally met them last month when she flew out to India.


Before returning to Switzerland, Ms Reist spoke of her joy at finding the parents she had not seen since 1980.

"I will come back and I cannot describe my feelings meeting my family after so many years," she said.

"We never thought even in our wildest dreams that we would meet our poor girl whom we lost in 1980," said Muhammad Rafi, her father.

"While seeing off my daughter at the airport, I had the feeling of being part of the bidai [farewell] ceremony of my daughter who was married abroad."

Four held over India baby swap
13 May 03  |  South Asia
Son of Indian legislator is abducted
05 Mar 02  |  South Asia

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