Teen girls from UP pull cart barefoot for 100km after losing pony to thiefindia Updated: Oct 01, 2017 21:54 IST
Shakila helped in pulling the cart when exhaustion overwhelmed her elder sister.(HT Photo)
The yoke of poverty forced two teenage sisters of Uttar Pradesh to take turns to pull a horse cart 100km on their way back home from Haridwar, where they had gone in search of a sibling allegedly abducted by a sadhu.
The cart with a blanket spread over it contained a bucket, a backpack, clothes and their blind father, Salmu. Their younger brother, 10-year-old Arif, accompanied them, alternating between walking alongside the sister hauling the burden and resting beside his father.
The 17-year-old Meena and sister Shakila, who is a year younger, walked barefoot.
Meena did most of the pulling and her dry mouth and chafed, bleeding soles betrayed the ordeal the family had gone through in a week on the asphalt road from Haridwar to Shamli, en route to their village, Niwada, in Baghpat district that is another 30km away.
The poor family’s nightmare began in August during the “kanwar yatra” — an annual Hindu pilgrimage dedicated to god Shiva. An itinerant sadhu allegedly lured Meena’s 12-year-old sister Khairuna and took her to Haridwar.
The family exhausted all its means to impress local authorities to trace the girl and then took it upon itself to launch a search in Haridwar.
The siblings and their father saved some money, packed their clothes, harnessed the pony to the cart and went to the holy town by the Ganga in Uttarakhand about a fortnight ago.
They searched everywhere for Khairuna — ashrams and public places. And succeeded in locating the sadhu on Pathari road in Haridwar but he escaped.
The family said it reported the town’s police about the abduction, but no action was allegedly taken.
In the meantime, a wretched thief stole their pony.
Crestfallen, exhausted and left with little money for a bus ride home, Meena decided to pull the cart. Shakila helped when exhaustion overwhelmed her elder sister.
They slept by the roadside at night and marched under a scorching sun, which loosened the grit from the road tar. They travelled for a week and hundreds of cars and thousands of people passed by.
No one stopped or bothered to offer them help.
Not until they reached Shamli on Saturday, where the district administration came to their rescue after learning from local media about the marathon march of Meena and Shakila.
Shamli district magistrate Indra Vikram Singh and police superintendent Ajaypal Sharma met the family and arranged a pony. They gave them money and food for the rest of the journey.
“It was shocking for us. Thousands of people must have seen the young girl pulling a cart barefoot, but no one extended any help. It shows extreme insensitivity in society,” Singh said.
A doctor examined the family; medicines and shoes were given to girls.
Singh and Sharma requested their counterparts in Baghpat to help rescue the girl from the sadhu.