Teenager Jyoti Kumar riding 1,200 kms with disabled dad shows plight of migrants with disabilities
15-year-old Jyoti Kumari cycled over 1200 kms from Delhi to Bihar along with her disabled father who sat on the rear carrier of the cycle. Jyoti’s courage and determination has received international praise. But it also highlights how the government has failed vulnerable people like the disabled during tough times like the lockdown.
Tour De France is the world’s toughest cycling race, something which only experts would try their luck with. But Jyoti Kumari,15 , had to cycle over 1,200 kms from Delhi to Bihar to bring her disabled father back home. Jyoti’s family was one amongst those who were affected badly due to the ongoing lockdown. Her father met with an accident and was left disabled. He was a rickshaw driver in Delhi.
Due to lack of jobs and starvation, Jyoti decided to make sure that she and her father survive at any cost. As she puts it, they had no other option. Without thinking twice, this teenager started the ride to her hometown in Bihar. Jyoti’s story of inspiration and unconditional love towards her disabled father has gathered worldwide attention with people like USA President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump tweeting about it.
India’s migrant population were amongst those who were worst affected in the past two months. Even today, many are walking thousands of kilometres to return back to their hometowns. Lack of public transport or help from state and central government’s has made things worse for many. Even disabled and elderly people or pregnant and single women are not provided any help.
Reportedly, Jyoti’s landlord threatened to evict them from their Delhi house if they do not vacate at the earliest. The father-daughter tried a few other means to return back home, but all modes of transport were expensive. Jyoti and her disabled father decided to buy a bicycle for Rs 500. They started their journey from Delhi on 10 May and finally reached home to Bihar on 16 May where they were put in home quarantine.
Stories of how brave women rode thousands of kilometres during lockdown to bring back their loved ones had done rounds on social media. But what Jyoti had done at such a young age has left people shocked and surprised. Many even empathised with her plight. Jyoti’s injured father sat on the rear carrier of her bicycle throughout the journey. It takes a lot of grit, courage and determination to do something tough like what Jyoti did.
Jyoti is a Class 7 student. She has been quoted saying to The Times of India, “I did not feel very scared even while cycling at night as we used to see hundreds of migrants walking on the highways. Our only concern was road accidents, which unfortunately we did not face”.
Social media reaction
Many renowned people shared about Jyoth’s inspiring story.
“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!”, tweeted Ivanka Trump.
After intervention from Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, Cycling Federation of India, that sends Olympics candidates, offered to bring back Jyoti to Delhi for a ‘tryout’. But she refused and chose studies over cycling.
Many people criticized the government and shared their views on social media. The government had failed to reach out to Jyoti’s disabled father during time of need.
“”She must be having the strength and physical endurance. We want to test it,” Cycle Federation of India chairman had said when offering a trial to #JyotiKumari. This is so offensive at so many level, it’s like “how come she didn’t die, she must be having strength”, tweeted writer Sanjukta Basu.
“1 : A young Dalit girl Jyoti Kumari had to travel for more than thousand of kilometer carrying her injured father in cycle from Gurgaon to Bihar amidst lock down. This should be a matter of shame for the Indian Govt as well as the “civil society” rather than a matter of pride”, tweeted Sumeet Blue.
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