Shraddha Shukla from Kanpur’s Cantonment area swam 10 km from Ganga Barrage to Siddhnath ghat at age six and a year later she swam 6 km from Kanpur to Unnao. On August 11, 2013, when she was eight, she covered 16 km downstream in just 80 minutes nipping 10 minutes from her earlier best. The following year, Shraddha swam to Allahabad from Massacre ghat in less than a week.
On Sunday, August 28, 2016, the 12-year-old Shraddha Shukla was ready to set a record by swimming 570 km in the swollen Ganga from Kanpur to Varanasi in 10 days. She plunged into the river Ganga at Massacre Ghat, Kanpur at 11:10 am and scheduled to reach Varanasi on Tuesday, September 6, 2016. According to her father and coach Lalit Shukla, she would set a record by swimming about 70 km a day with breaks after every four to five hours. The total distance covered would equal 13 Olympic marathons.
Lalit Shukla hopes his daughter if selected to take part in the Olympics would win a gold medal for India.
Shraddha Shukla became a star overnight.
A Mumbai-based senior Indian journalist and documentary filmmaker, Vinod Kapri, who in 2014 won a National Award for the documentary film “Can’t Take This Shit Anymore” contacted Lalit Shukla.
For two days, Vinod Kapri along with three of his associates travelled on Lalit Shukla’s boat. He noticed that most of the time Shraddha Shukla travelled in the boat instead of swimming and whenever they approached a ghat or when people were around she dropped into the waters and swam. So, according to Vinod Kapri, the girl swam only when spectators were present.
When Kapri questioned why Shraddha swam only two to three km per day instead of 70 Kms, covering most of the distance on the boat, Lalit got irritated and threatened him. Kapri then hired a motor boat for himself and his team.
While waiting near Vindhychal ghat in Mirzapur, Kapri and his team spotted Lalit Shukla’s boats and started filming. They found the girl sitting in the boat with her father. When the team started filming, Lalit Shukla hurled abuses and issued life threats.
Lalit Shukla repudiated Vinod Kapri’s claim that his daughter swam only when spectators were present. He said that after every 15-20 km they pulled the girl out of the water to apply a cream on her body and give her something to eat.
The Uttar Pradesh State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (UPSCPCR) ordered a probe into the alleged violation of rights of the 12-year-old swimmer, who is said to have covered a distance of 570 km in 10 days.
- Ganga adventure: Kanpur’s 11-year-old ‘Jalpari’ sets off to swim to Varanasi (hindustantimes.com)
- This 11-year-old is swimming from Kanpur to Varanasi to chase her Olympic dreams (yourstory.com)
- 11-year-old girl swims long distances 13 Olympic marathons (sportarena.com)
- Controversy dominated the ‘mermaid’, learn the truth of faith Shukla mission! (abpnews.abplive.in)
- Vinod Kapri (en.wikipedia.org)
- Is a 12-year-old swimming 570 km? Uttar Pradesh child panel orders probe (indianexpress.com)
- UP child rights panel orders inquiry into 12-year-old girl swimming 570 km from Kanpur to Varanasi (scroll.in)