US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump described the feat of an Indian girl cycling 1,200 km with her wounded father to get home under lockdown as a “beautiful feat of endurance and love”.
“15 yr old Jyoti Kumari, carried her wounded father to their home village on the back of her bicycle covering +1,200 km over 7 days. This beautiful feat of endurance & love has captured the imagination of the Indian people and the cycling federation,” Ivanka tweeted.
The cycling federation will invite Jyoti Kumari, 15, to appear for a trial next month, impressed with the doggedness with which she pedalled her way to Bihar from Gurugram, carrying her ailing father.
With her father Mohan Paswan riding pillion, Jyoti cycled for seven days, covering 1,200 km to get to Bihar’s Darbhanga.
Presently, the father-daughter duo is at a quarantine centre near their village Sirhulli under Singhwara block of the district.
Paswan, driven to penury following an accident a few months ago, said his landlord gave him an ultimatum to either pay the rent that was due for a few months or leave.
“I succeeded in buying time on a couple of occasions. I promised him that I would take up whatever job I could land once the lockdown was lifted, earn money, and pay all his dues. We were so hard pressed that I had to discontinue my medicines so that we could afford one square meal a day. How could we have arranged money for rent?” a news agency had quoted him as saying.
As the lockdown kept getting extended, the threats of the landlord kept getting more severe, he said.
It was then that Jyoti was looking after her father in Gurugram while her mother was taking care of her four younger siblings back in the village while working as an Aanganwadi worker.
“Amid the gloomy situation, Jyoti suggested that we return home. I pointed out that we would not be able to find any trains or buses soon and my condition would not allow me to walk. She said we should get a bicycle,” said Paswan.
Despite attempts to dissuade the daughter, the duo was soon on the road.
The father smiled with a hint of pride when asked about her daughter being compared in the local media to the character of Shravan Kumar from the epic Ramayana, who took his old and frail parents on a long pilgrimage with his mother and father seated in baskets hanging at the ends of a pole he carried on his shoulders.
“She is indeed my Shravan Kumar. The journey back home has been nothing short of a pilgrimage. Having arrived feels like salvation,” Paswan said.
Her poverty & desperation are being glorified as if Jyoti cycled 1,200 KM for the thrill of it. Government failed her, thats hardly something to trumpet as an achievement . https://t.co/i33ImFm0fr
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) May 22, 2020
Meanwhile, responding to Ivanka, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah said: “Her poverty and desperation are being glorified as if Jyoti rode 1,200 km for the thrill of it. Government failed her, that`s hardly something to trumpet as an achievement”.