A unique way of paying tribute to the martyrs

A unique way of paying tribute to the martyrs

A unique way of paying tribute to the martyrs

Born in a middle class family in Champaran and shorn of adequate regular income, Manoj Kumar has done what many from the well-to-do families won't dare to do - invest a large chunk of his savings from Provident Fund and gratuity to plant more than 3,000 saplings in different parts of North Bihar and on Indo-Nepal border.

Sounds crazy! But the selfless service of this tall, dark and handsome guy is yet to catch the media attention. However, in an exclusive chat with Abhay Kumar of Deccan Herald, Manoj says this is his unconventional method of paying tribute to the martyrs of 1857 revolution.


DH: You were working with a pharmaceutical company. How come this idea about the plantation drive cropped up?

Right from the beginning, my aim was to contribute something to  society. So I wanted to join civil services. But lady luck would not smile on me. Eventually, I opted for the second best option. Eke out a living through any decent job, and then go on a sapling mission.

DH: When did you start this mission?

In 2007. The nation was celebrating the 150th anniversary of 1857 mutiny. I thought others pay floral tributes to the freedom fighters and forget these unsung heroes the very next day. So, I decided to plant a tree in the name of each freedom fighter, erect a platform around the saplings and put some information about the martyrs. The whole idea was to inspire the younger generation to follow in their footsteps. The family members also of martyrs will nurture the sapling till it grew into a tree.

DH: So, you are involving others too in the plantation drive?

Yes, precisely because the person who plants a tree becomes emotionally attached to it and ensures that the plant does not wither away.

DH: How many saplings have you planted so far?

Over 3,000. But let me tell you, it was not an easy job. There were bureaucratic hurdles and non-cooperation from  society. Above all, the financial constraint was a major problem.

DH: Still you went ahead? It is said that you had a fall out with your wife when you
invested even your hard earned savings from the provident fund and gratuity in the plantation drive?

(Smiles)… True. Her concern was not out of place. After all, I have three children to look after. But the absence of any financial aid from the Government forced me to shell out my savings. God willing, everything will be taken care of by Him.

DH: Where have you planted most of the saplings?

In Champaran, near the Bettiah Sales Tax chowk and MJK Hospital. Besides, the 21 Battalion of Seema Suraksha Bal (SSB) patrolling on the Indo-Nepal border has planted 250 saplings, while 27 Battalion of SSB, Narkatiaganj has planted 200 saplings.

DH: Any particular reason behind motivating the para-military forces?

I was deeply concerned over the mindless cutting of tress in the Nepal territory.

DH: What kind of trees you prefer to grow?

Mostly neem. Also, palm tree, jamun, ashoka, guava, mango etc.

DH: Is it true that the Bettiah divisional forest office, which initially questioned your
intentions, has now recommended your name for a special award for this selfless service?

To tell you honestly, I never hanker for awards or appreciation. If you want to reward me, just plant a sapling. I will erect a platform around it and ensure that it grows into a healthy tree.

DH: Any message for those who want to emulate you?

Just remember: "When the aim is noble, the means will follow. Our aim is a healthy nation."