Relief Campaign
The Girl on a Bicycle

Stranded migrant workers were forced to take desperate measures to get back home during the unplanned Covid-19 lockdown. Many died in the effort. When the Shramik trains eventually began, they ended up taking nine days instead of one, to reach their destination, with workers stranded on board without food or water. Naturally these too resulted in deaths.     

In the midst of all this, teenage Jyoti Paswan brought her injured father Mohan Paswan home from Haryana to Darbhanga on a bicycle. As her story got attention in Indian and international media, the Modi Government and Government of Bihar showed no shame. Instead the Modi Government sought to appropriate the pride that belonged to Jyoti alone, for her courage and tenacity in the face of a cruel situation imposed by a cruel Government.  

Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Ashwini Kumar Choubey declared “walking and cycling are good for health, we always said so.” Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, urged by his colleague, Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad declared that Jyoti would be offered a trial by the Cycling Federation of India. The Cycling Federation did offer her a trial – but she refused, saying she would rather find a way to study. Ivanka Trump, daughter of the US President, gushed on Twitter that Jyoti’s “beautiful feat of endurance & love has captured the imagination of the Indian people and the cycling federation!

This led some to ask – will the migrant workers seen carrying their elderly parents home in their arms, be lauded for their weight-lifting skills and offered a trial for India’s weight-lifting team? The French queen infamously asked people who were demanding bread, why they did not eat cake instead. Going even further, Modi’s Ministers unblushingly pretend that Jyoti’s feat was to excel at the sport of cycling, not to survive and protect her injured father from an avoidable atrocity imposed by the Modi regime.



CPIML comrades led by Comrade Laxmi Paswan went to Sirhulli village of Singhwara block of Darbhanga district to visit Jyoti. They carried a gift of a few books for Jyoti. The conditions of Jyoti's family in Darbhanga - and Gurgaon where her father used to pull a rickshaw - tell a story of utter deprivation. That is a story the rulers of India and the US would rather not acknowledge. The family of eight has to live in a single room house without any tubewell or toilet. Mohan Paswan went to Gurgaon to earn a living, and Jyoti went along to help him. When he got injured early this year, his landlord tried to evict him from his Gurgaon room. It was sheer desperation that drove Jyoti to try and bring her father home on cycle.

CPIML General Secretary Comrade Dipankar said, “The story of this brave girl and her family exposes the hollowness and hypocrisy of all tall claims like Swachh Bharat, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, MNREGA, PM Awas Yojana. The least the governments must do is to apologise to this family and ensure all their basic rights.”

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