A personal homage to the Martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the country. This is how, former Major General of Indian Army Somnath Jha paid tribute to the fallen soldiers of the country, by his 162-day long cycle journey covering a total of 12,000 km.
During his six-month-long journey, Jha covered 29 states and dedicated 42,000 minutes to cycling — two minutes each for 21,000 soldiers who attained martyrdom since India got Independence in 1947.
Jha started his expedition September 30. He had two objectives – cycle 12,000 km and cover all 29 states. He finished both his tasks. When people patiently wait for retirement to go on foreign tours and enjoy with family, Jha decided to do something different.
The idea of his personal homage took root in his mind as he was about to get retired.
“When we were packing our stuff, we also found our letters that were written to each other. So, we decided read and burn them together.
“While reading, we went down the memory lane where he had shared stories about the fallen soldiers. He used to get emotional while reading them. So, he decided to pay his tribute to them,” Jha’s wife said adding that the couple initially discussed various ways but eventually settled on cycling.
Jha used to start at 4 in the morning, followed by his wife, who made his stay arrangements and others. After every five days, the Jha and his wife used take a halt.
After covering 12,000km, Jha, who retired October 13, chose Dehradun to end “his life’s greatest achievements” as in the city he had trained for the army.
“I am absolutely delighted to have completed my target in Dehradun where I fist joined the army and got trained,” he said.
Remembering his journey, Jha said he feels blessed as people across the country supported him through his journey on two wheels.
“In Bihar, after a local served refreshments and provided shelter for a few minutes, I bid him farewell by saying ‘Khuda Hafiz’. And he replied ‘Jai Hind’.
“That’s my real Indian. I felt so small. Every single person I met greeted me by saying ‘Jai Hind’. Patriotism is a feeling that needs to be shown,” Jha says.