After having spent 37 years serving in the army, Major General Somnath Jha upon retirement decided that he wanted to honour the soldiers who gave their lives in the line of duty.
He embarked on an epic journey where he spent seven months cycling across the country through 29 states to pay tribute to the men and women who died defending the nation.
Photo source: Facebook
On his Facebook page, called A veteran’s homage journey, he has steadily chronicled every step of his 12,000km biking journey. He explains the reason he decided to cycle for seven months, saying he wanted to dedicate 2 minutes of his journey to each of the soldiers who have lost their lives fighting for India since independence. A rough estimate found that there were around 20,600 soldiers who died defending the country. Jha decided to round up the figure to 21,000. His wife Chitra was with him every step of the way to ensure he had enough support to complete his task.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, Jha spoke about his motivation, noting, “Our soldiers motivated me. The men motivated me. The fallen soldiers motivated me. They gave their lives for you and me. They didn’t even know who they were sacrificing their lives for. And they deserve to be recognised and they deserve to be remembered and what can be more motivating than that?”
Jha was part of the 11th Jammu & Kashmir Light Infantry and began his journey from the Ambala Cantonment, where he retired, on October 2016. He notes that through these seven months, he was only met with enthusiasm and support from people across India.