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In Rahul Gandhi’s Yatra, Why This Biker Is Traveling With His Dog

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–>Khargone (Madhya Pradesh):

Two men and a dog named Marvel, on a bike, all set with supplies and tents, are now tailing Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ as it passes through Madhya Pradesh onwards to Rajasthan and eventually to Kashmir, and they want to be heard. “We want to meet him to ask him what his vision for animal welfare is,” said Rajat Parashar, a Gwalior-based civil engineer who also works for stray dogs’ upkeep.  

“I admire what Rahul Gandhi is doing. Such a Yatra resonates with young people as they, too, want to be able to do such a journey from Kanyakumari to Kashmir some day,” he added.

But what’s Marvel, a 10-month-old female German Shepherd, doing with them? “She is our companion in everything. We have trained her to travel with us. We have already done 10,000 kilometres, including Kashmir to Kanyakumari, the route that Rahul Gandhi is doing the other way around,” said Mr Parashar.

His bike’s rear seat has a special cradle-like setup in which another passenger and Marvel can sit comfortably. Marvel has her own biker’s glasses, too.

How did it strike him that he needs to take up animal welfare with politicians? “When we travel, we see a lot of dead animals, most of them run over by vehicles. I am sure there are ways to stop that. And in general, too, we want that politicians should prioritise working on that,” said Mr Parashar.

About how they travel with Marvel, he also pointed out that not many hotels allow pets. “We either find a hotel that’s ok with it, or we stay at dhabas (traditional roadside shacks that provide cots). If nothing else, we pitch our tent. Marvel loves running around, so it’s great fun for her too.”

But so far they haven’t been able to meet Rahul Gandhi, who happens to be dog lover by his own accounts.

“The security is too strict,” said Mr Parashar, “They have been rather rough with us. We understand why. But we hope we will get a chance as we are now with the Yatra.”

The 3,500-km Yatra that began in September has completed about half its route, and is to conclude in January.

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