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Major General Somnath Jha personifies the saying – Age is just a number. Unlike everybody else, he had different retirement plans. After giving 37 precious years of his life in the service of the nation, he just didn’t want to hang up his boots the usual way at the age of 58. During his service, he has lost many of his buddies, peers, and superiors to various counter terror activities, some of whom also lost their lives in his lap.
The sacrifices made by these soldiers have left a deep impact in his heart. “Freedom, that we all take for granted, doesn’t actually come for free. It’s been paid for by the lives of our gallant soldiers. Paid forward by them, for us to enjoy. It, therefore, deserves to be respected, honored and upheld in its true spirit,” says Major General Somnath Jha.
Since India’s independence, the official number of fallen heroes and martyrs was 20,600(and still counting…) as on May 2016. Major General Jha wanted to do something special as a salute to these brave souls of India. For the ease of his calculations, he rounded off this to 21,000. He decided to embark on an incredible journey across every Indian state to honor every fallen soldier of the Indian Army by cycling over 12,000 km – dedicating 2 minutes for every martyr!
He has cycled for 183 days across the country, completing his homage at India Gate in New Delhi. His tribute was also for the families of those martyrs who have to go through a lot of pain and trauma which most of the times goes unseen and unheard.
Major General Somnath Jha was in the 11th Jammu & Kashmir Light Infantry. He started the nation wide journey from Ambala Cantonment in October 2016, the place from where he retired. One person who stood by him all this while was his wife Chitra. Chitra, a life skills coach and author of several motivational books, was at his side all the time, taking care of all his logistics.
“We do not own a house and have given away most of our belongings. We do not even have a home right now but that’s what life should be all about. We have lived our lives to the fullest and now have embarked upon a journey that is so satisfying,” says the inspiring couple with a smile of satisfaction and all the spirit of life.
We salute your spirit of life.