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Retd Indian Army veteran cycling across the country in a tribute to Soldiers who laid down their lives for Nation since Independence

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Major General Somnath Jha , Source: All India Radio
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New Delhi, April 18, 2017: Major General Somnath Jha (Retd), who is cycling across the country in a tribute to the soldiers who laid down their lives for the nation since Independence, reached Delhi Cantonment on the penultimate day of his journey.

Having spent 37 years in service, the 58-year-old third-generation soldier took up the daunting task of paying homage to around 21,000 armed forces personnel by cycling for two minutes for each of them throughout the country.

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“This is my symbolic homage to my brethren who didn’t have the privilege of retiring as I did since they made the supreme sacrifice before that,” Jha said.

Accompanied by his wife Chitra, Jha hit the road 18 days after he retired on October 19 last year starting his journey from Ambala Cantonment (from where he retired), and has cycled for 42,000 minutes across 29 states over a period of seven months.

He paid homage to every war memorial on his way and would conclude his homage journey at the Amar Jawan Jyoti here on Wednesday.

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During the journey, his day would start early in the morning as he would cycle till he hit his day’s target, which could be anything between 70 to 150 km taking minimal breaks in between, a Defence Ministry statement said.

Commissioned in the 11th Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry, Jha scaled Mt. Kilimanjaro at the age of 54 and learned paragliding at the age of 56. (IANS)

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Korean Soldiers Inspect The Demilitarized Border

The three sides have controlled the area since the end of the Korean War in 1953

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Korea
North Korean army soldiers are greeted by South Korean army soldiers, wearing helmets, as they cross the Military Demarcation Line inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to inspect the dismantled South Korean guard post in Cheorwon. VOA

Soldiers from North and South Korea criss-crossed their heavily-fortified border Wednesday to inspect efforts to remove front-line guard posts from their respective sides.

Inspection teams from South Korea were greeted by North Korean soldiers when they stepped into the Demilitarized Zone early Wednesday, both sides exchanging handshakes and cigarettes before the South Koreans crossed the border to begin their inspections.

The South Koreans visited 11 North Korean guard posts to make sure they had either been dismantled or disarmed, and if any underground structures were left undestroyed. North Korean inspection teams crossed the border hours later to perform similar inspections on 11 South Korean border posts.

Korea
A train transporting dozens of South Korean officials runs on the rails which leads to North Korea, inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Paju, South Korea. VOA

Despite Wednesday’s action, about 200 manned guard posts still remain along the DMZ.

The border is the world’s most heavily fortified, filled with millions of landmines and marked by long lines of barbed wire fences.

The dismantling of the guard posts in the DMZ was part of a comprehensive military agreement reached between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during their third summit in September at Pyongyang.

Korea
South Korean President Moon Jae-in makes a toast with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a luncheon at Samjiyon Guesthouse in Ryanggang province, North Korea. VOA

The agreement, which is aimed at reducing military tensions on the Korean peninsula, included disarming the Joint Security Area – commonly referred to as the truce village of Panmunjon – including the removal of all landmines, guard posts, surveillance and other military equipment. They also agreed to reduce the number of personnel stationed at the JSA to just 35 unarmed guards, with the aim of reshaping it into a tourist attraction.

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The Joint Security Area, controlled by both Seoul and Pyongyang along with the U.S.-led United Nations Command, is the only spot within the 250-kilometer-long DMZ where troops from North and South Korea stand face-to-face. The three sides have controlled the area since the end of the Korean War in 1953, leaving North and South Korea in a technical state of war. (VOA)