Manipal private University Student embarks on 3,500-km bicycle ride to save Sangai Deer


A 23-year-old student started a 3,500-km bicycle ride to Imphal from Greater Noida Tuesday with an aim to raise awareness about Sangai deer, the state animal of Manipur.

Philem Rohan Singh, pursuing masters in English at a private University in Greater Noida, also wants to draw the world's attention toward the annual Sangai Festival hosted by the Manipur government. Commonly known as Manipur brow-antlered deer, Sangai is an endemic and endangered subspecies found only in Manipur in northeast India.

During the marathon bicycle ride, Rohan would peddle his way to his home state traversing 12 states. In 35 days, the student said he would ride through Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Nagaland to culminate the record-setting journey in Manipur.

"My grandfather was a forest guard protecting the Sangai animal for many years but now he is old and I had promised him that I would make him proud one day," Rohan told PTI, adding that this ride is dedicated to his grandfather.

"During the journey, I would be going to schools and colleges and interact with students. Social media and YouTube videos will be updated accordingly as required," he said. But this is not the first time that the young man from the Northeast, who was drawn toward cycling early in life, is attempting such a tour de force.

"I started cycling when I was in class 5. I was even riding rickshaws to help my family needs like carrying water. I have been operated upon twice because of vericose vein which affected my leg badly. The doctor had told me that I should not stand for a long time. But inspite of all the odds I recently travelled all the way from New Delhi to Imphal covering 2,800 km in January 2018 and also undertook another ride from Imphal to Kolkata for 1,700 km with the themes 'Pollution Free India', 'Unity in Diversity', and 'Humanity'," he claimed.

Already on his third voyage, Rohan described himself as a "lone traveller" who is aiming at setting a world record to go around the world on a bicycle. "And this is just the beginning," he remarked. Rohan's journey to create awareness about conservation of the fragile environment and protecting endangered Sangai has been supported by his alma mater Sharda University, the Manipur government, among others.

The Sangai festival is an annual cultural festival organised by Manipur Tourism Department every year from November 21 to 30. University chancellor P K Gupta, who flagged off the marathon ride Tuesday afternoon, exuded pride on the student's initiative. "We are proud of him. His remarks effort exhibits the country's spirit of unity in diversity," he said.

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