Father of Bihar Girl Who Rode 1,200 km on Cycle With Him During Lockdown Dies

Sixteen-year-old Jyoti Paswan's father Mohan was 45 years old and was well until the morning of May 31, his family said.

Patna: The father of the girl who had made headlines last year after cycling 1200 kilometres to their Bihar village with him riding pillion during the lockdown passed away on the morning of May 31. 

Sixteen-year-old Jyoti Paswan’s father, Mohan, was 45 years old. Their village is in Bihar’s Darbhanga. 

 His wife Phulo Devi told The Wire that he was not suffering any major disease and was “absolutely well till morning.”

“Today morning he returned from a nearby bus stop and since then he has been feeling unwell. He told us that he is feeling hot. We then put the fan on. After a few minutes he went upstairs and suddenly died,” she said.

A local, Lalit Paswan, said Mohan was planning a community meal with his cousins, to be organised in the memory of his uncle who had passed away a few days.

Also read: From Gurgaon to Bihar, 15-Year-Old Girl Cycles 1,200 km With Injured Father

“He appears to have had a sudden heart attack,” Lalit, who works at the nearby Kamtaul Police Station, said.

Mohan had been working as an e-rickshaw driver in Gurugram for years. On January 26 last year, he was returning to his rented home when a car hit him. His left leg was badly injured and a doctor advised him 6-7 months of complete rest.

In two months, the Centre announced a complete lockdown with fewer than four hours’ notice. The lockdown left thousands of migrant workers starved and with no method of returning home. They were unable to pay rent either, as most of their workplaces had to shut down according to lockdown rules.

Migrants walk on the Delhi-Noida road in Ghaziabad, May 14, 2020. Photo: PTI/Vijay Verma

Like thousands of workers, Mohan too was left helpless. At that time, Jyoti was in Gurugram, looking after him. After seeing hundreds of people leaving for their native villages on foot, she had decided that she and her injured father needed to return to Sirhulli village in Darbhanga, their native house. 

Initially, Mohan father was reluctant but acquiesced to Jyoti later. They set out on 8 May, 2020 on an used bicycle Jyoti purchased.

In the aftermath of her journey, Jyoti had told The Wire that she rode the bicycle and her father rode pillion on the carrier slot to their village. They would sleep at petrol pumps during the night and ride the whole day. It took them more than a week to reach Darbhanga.

Photographs taken and shared widely on social media last year showing Jyoti Paswan on her cycle with her father. Photo: Twitter/@ShubhamKochar82

Her incredible journey put her in the limelight and many organisations stepped up with promises to help her financially. The Bihar government made her the ambassador for its social welfare project.

Also read: A Long Look at Exactly Why and How India Failed Its Migrant Workers

Mumbai-based filmmaker Vinod Kapri announced a film on her journey. A south Indian director signed a similar contract with Jyoti. The two filmmakers are in court over rights to the story.

In March, this correspondent had met the family at their home in Darbhanga. Mohan had said then that had been unemployed since returning from Gurugram. The social welfare department of Bihar had promised him a job.

The district administration had enrolled Jyoti in a government school. She appeared in the Class 10 board exams this year. “I would like to study as much as I can,” she had said in March.

Mohan then was concerned about Jyoti and his other three other children’s education.

He had said, “I worry about them. If I don’t get a job in the social welfare department then I will buy an e-rickshaw and ply it in my village. I don’t want to leave the family [and work elsewhere] as this will impact the children’s studies.”

Mohan had been helping Jyoti with the contract signing process of the film and had said he would accompany her when she would be invited to Delhi and Mumbai.