To spread the message of ‘Nuclear arms-free world’, Pune engineer Nitin Sonawane (26) is currently in Japan on a ‘Shanti Padyatra’, which will reach Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, respectively. The yatra began in Tokyo on June 11, where Sonawane walked for almost six hours everyday, covering nearly 25 kms daily. So far, he has covered Tokyo, Nagano, Aichi, Nagiya, Shiga, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo and Okayama.
The yatra is part of a World Peace and Friendship Movement (WPFM), initiated by Mahatma Gandhi Smarak Nidhi. The WPFM kickstarted on November 16, 2016. Sonawane and his friend Ajay Hapse had embarked on the journey on their bicycles, covering whole of Asia, through Canada, US, Latin America to Europe, Africa and Middle East. The journey began from Sevagram, a village in Maharahstra where Mahatma Gandhi had resided from 1936 till his death in 1948.
The movement will end in Pakistan on October 2, 2019, which happens to be the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. “It’s an effort to contribute towards national integration,” said Sonawane, who hails from Rashin village of Karjat Taluka, Ahmednagar. While Hapse returned to India after travelling upto Cambodia, Sonawane will finish the tour. So far, he has covered India, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China and Hong Kong.
After finishing his engineering degree from Sinhagad Institute of Technology, Kondhwa, in 2013, Sonawane worked for six months in a private company. However, soon he quit, as he felt “something was amiss”.
“I wanted to understand the purpose of life. As people move throughout the world and learn to know and appreciate each other and different customs, we build an international understanding which can sharply improve the atmosphere for world peace,” he said.
In order to support Sonawane’s efforts, a Shanti Pad Yatra is also being organised by WPFM and Yuvak Kranti Dal in Pune on August 6, which will start at Senapati Bapat Statue (Alka Talkies Chowk) at 11 am and will end at Sambhaji Maharaj Garden.
“I have been living with a bicycle, a bag and a tent for the several months. Despite the limited belongings, my faith and confidence in humanity and brotherhood has increased multifold. In the last eight months, there hasn’t been a day when I have slept on an empty stomach,” said Sonawane, adding that several strangers have happily helped him throughout the journey.