Washington: US President Trump's daughter and senior White House adviser Ivanka Trump has praised 15-year-old Jyoti Kumari, who cycled down 1200 km with her ailing father during the nationwide lockdown in India, terming her act as a "beautiful feat of endurance and love".
A few months ago, Jyoti had visited her father Mohan Paswan, who lived in Gurugram in Haryana, as he sustained injuries to his leg in an accident. After her father's leg was operated, Jyoti stayed there and decided to look after him. Stuck in Gurugram in Haryana due to the COVID-19-induced travel restrictions and lockdown, a tenacious Jyoti asked her father to sit on the rear side carrier of her cycle and took him from Gurugram in Haryana to their native place Darbhanga in Bihar covering over 1,200 km over 7 days. Ivanka took to Twitter to highlight the story of the girl, a class eight student, whose journey has become an extensive talking point even on social media where there has been talk about whether she has it in her to pursue cycling as a career
"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 said in a tweet.
Impressed with the doggedness with which Kumari pedalled her way to Bihar from Gurugram, carrying her ailing father, Cycling Federation of India (CFI) will invite Kumari to appear for a trial next month, in what could be a life-changing opportunity. CFI Chairman Onkar Singh recently told PTI that if Kumari passed the trial, she will be selected as a trainee at the state-of-the-art National Cycling Academy at the IGI Stadium complex here.
Jyoti's father, Mohan Paswan, an autorickshaw driver in Gurgaon got injured and the lockdown left him without any source of income. He had to return the auto to the owner. The father and daughter duo started their journey from Gurgaon on May 10 after buying a cycle with whatever money they had and reached their village on May 16. However, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah responded to Ivanka's tweet and said desperation and poverty of Jyoti are being glorified but it is hardly something to trumpet as an achievement. "Her poverty and desperation are being glorified as if Jyoti rode 1,200 km for the thrill of it. The government failed her, that is hardly something to trumpet as an achievement," he wrote.
Speaking to ANI about her journey and the call from Cycle Federation of India, Jyoti said: "I received a call and they told me that you have to participate in a cycle race. We will give you food and a place to live in. I told them that currently, my body is in pain as I travelled from Gurugram to Bihar. My body needs rest. But I will come there next month."
Jyoti's proud mother Fulo Devi expressed her happiness over the fact that her daughter is receiving appreciation but also shared the pain of her family who is living in abject poverty. "My daughter has struggled a lot as it was not an easy step. We are happy that she brought her father home from Gurugram. We are living in poverty. If we work then only can we eat. My husband was hit by a vehicle and sustained injuries to his leg. We went there and gave him money for his treatment. Then we returned but Jyoti decided to stay there and look after him," she said. "We got a call from Delhi. Jyoti is saying she will go there for her trials. I am very proud of her. We never dreamt of such a thing. People in large numbers are coming to congratulate us. From District Magistrate to several public representatives have honoured her," she added.