Height of drive: At 65,biker soldiers on to pay homage to martyrs

‘If I can educate 50 people about the hardships that our soldiers go through to protect our borders,I will be more than happy’

Written by Shishir Tripathi | Chandigarh | Published: September 2, 2013 3:13:39 am

“You don’t stop motorbiking as you age; you start aging when you stop motorbiking,” says 65-year-old Lieutenant Colonel (retd) Sohan Roy who has just completed an adventurous motorcycle ride to Siachen base camp to pay tribute to the soldiers who died defending the borders. On his way back,Roy had a brief stopover in Chandigarh on Saturday.

Roy started his journey on August 15 from Delhi after paying homage at war memorial at India Gate. After crossing Jammu and Drass in Kargil,he reached Siachen base camp on August 24 and paid obeisance to martyrs.

An iron plate attached to the back of his motorcycle reads: “Ride to pay homage to martyr of Siachen Glacier. 846 soldiers died since 1984 safeguarding borders at 22,000 feet. Those posted there are surviving in temperature between minus 50 and 60 degree centigrade. Oxygen below 10%of what we breathe and average snowfall 34 feet.”

“If I can educate 50 people about the hardships that our soldiers go through to protect our borders,I will be more than happy,” he says.

On his motivation behind these expeditions,the 65-year-old says,“In 1976 I met three soldiers who were made prisoners of war in the battle of Rezang La. I learned about their sacrifices. I made a resolve then that I will visit Rezang La and other war memorials and pay homage to martyrs of our country.”

Nothing stops Roy from going on biking expedition to far-off places,not even severe osteoarthritis of both knees which restricts his walking capability. “I am just trying to take as many rides as possible before I have to go in for a knee-joint replacement,” he adds.

Roy was commissioned into the 15th Battalion of the Kumaon Regiment (Indore),and retired in 2001 after almost 30 years of service.

Having found space in Limca Book of Records 2011 for being the oldest person to ride to the world’s highest motorable road,Khardungla,Ladakh,in 2009,Roy repeated his rides in 2010,2011,2012 on a Royal Enfield Classic 500cc.

In 2012 he rode solo from New Delhi to Ladakh and back to pay homage to the martyrs of India-China war of 1962. He carried along with him a scroll of events of the battle and names of the martyrs of Chushul Sector and also of the famous battle of Rezang La where 114 Indian soldiers died.

About the journey,Roy says,“I displayed the scroll wherever I stopped and spoke about the battle.”

“I am very impressed with his focus in life. At this stage when we all have a laidback attitude,he is riding bike to far-off places,” says Sarabjit Singh,Roy’s friend and former DGP of Punjab.

Roy was invited as a guest rider to participate in the 5th International Poker Run held in Kathmandu,Nepal,in April 2013. “When I went to Nepal,I had this message about saving girl child painted on the iron plate that currently talks about the Siachen martyrs,” he says. “One of the reasons for these biking expedition is adventure. But equally important is to pay tribute to the martyrs and spread some message.”

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