Santosh Yadav, the 30-year-old Chhattisgarh Armed Force (CAF) jawan, posted in the Naxal-hit Bijapur district in Chhattisgarh, travelled about 1,100 km on foot, goods train, trucks and even a boat to reach home in Chunar after his mother died.
"I was desperate to reach my village Sikhar after I learnt about my mother's death. Both my younger brother and a married sister live in Mumbai and it was not possible for them to reach the village due to the lockdown. My father was alone in the village and I had to be with him," he said.
Yadav's wife and two kids also live in the village in Chunar in Mirzapur district.
Yadav embarked on the long journey home on April 7 morning after receiving the relieving letter from the commandant.
"I just wanted to make it to the state capital Raipur from where I was confident of arranging something for further journey," he said.
Yadav took a lift on a paddy-laden truck from Bijapur to reach Jagdalpur. He waited there for around two hours before spotting a mini truck which dropped him in Kondagaon, around 200 km from Raipur.
"In Kondagaon, I was stopped by police personnel, but I explained my situation to them. Luckily, an official deployed there was familiar to me and helped me in my travel up to Raipur in a vehicle carrying medicines," he said.
From Raipur, he boarded a goods train with the help of a friend posted in the Railway Protection Force (RPF).
"Then, I changed at least eight goods trains to reach Chunar, the nearest railway station to my village, on April 10 morning, thanks to all station masters and my friends working in railways," he said.
Yadav then walked 5 km to reach Ganga river and took a boat ride across to reach his village.
He said he was stopped at several places by police and railway personnel due to the lockdown but was allowed to proceed on humanitarian grounds.
He further said, "As many as 78 men from my village are working in railways and they were of great help to me during the journey."
Yadav had joined the CAF in 2009 and is deployed in its 15th battalion.