Sher Mohammed Khan, a rickshaw-puller in his 50s from Meerut, is on a roll these days. Seated atop his unique bicycle (12 feet long and 6 feet tall), Khan is out canvassing for the Samajwadi Party (SP) and desperately wants to see chief minister Akhilesh Yadav win the Uttar Pradesh elections.
Khan’s cycle ‘yatra’, covering Amroha, Rampur, Faizabad, Ayodhya, Lucknow and other neighbouring districts and around 15000km, is quite different from others as here he is not pedaling himself. He actually can’t as the cycle he rides is too huge. It’s his son Soni Khan on a bike who pulls the cycle through a rope, drawing hundreds of curious onlookers everywhere they go.
Khan’s mission began in early 2016, when he decided to assemble a giant bi-cycle to canvass for the SP. But, assembling a cycle of this dimensions was not easy as parts were not available in the market. It was then that he decided to assemble one himself.
“I decided to assemble the giant cycle and started casting the parts, including the tyres, rims, spokes, chassis, handle -- everything,” Khan told HT in the state capital on Sunday.
Of other parts, he said, making the tyres that also included the rim was toughest. It took him nearly 6 months to get the rims made, which, he said, was made by joining two different rims of a rickshaw. He used similar ‘jugaad’ for making the tyres. And there it was, ready for the ride just couple of months ahead of the UP polls. It cost him Rs 60,000.
He began his mission from Meerut, and covered almost all constituencies there. “I exhorted people to bring the SP back to power if they want to see their state developed,” said Khan, who was on his way back to Meerut via Lucknow.
During his journey, he also met with an accident in Rampur that left his left leg injured. “My father took rest for almost a week and then begin with his journey again,” Soni Khan said.
Soni said the feeling throughout the campaign was heartening as people extended warm welcome to them wherever they went. “People took selfies, videos, photos with us. I am really thankful for making us a celebrity,” said Soni.
In 2011, Sher Khan, who is also a big fan of film actor Dharmendra, pedalled his rickshaw from Meerut to Mumbai to meet the actor during the shoot of Jat Yamla Pagla Diwana, which featured Dharmendra and his sons Sunny Deol and Bobby Deol. A delighted Dharmendra in fact gave him a small role in the movie as a return gesture.