Nine girls, 14 boys to be honoured for exceptional valour this Republic Day
Kalpana Sonowal and Rekhamoni Sonowal, who saved their sister Archana from drowning
It was a calm afternoon on September 7, 2009, when Ipi Basar (16) suddenly heard piercing cries outside the window of her room. Fire had engulfed the village of Nyigam in Arunachal Pradesh and Ipi panicked as she saw the thick smoke rising from burning houses. She then remembered her paralysed aunt and her seven-year-old niece, who were next door and trapped in the fire. Without giving a thought to her own life, the teenager from West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh jumped into the fire, lifted her niece in her arms and pulled her aunt to safety.
Returning from his coaching class one day, Moonis Khan from Madhya Pradesh saw an old man sitting on the railway tracks "trying to commit suicide". A crowd had gathered on both sides of the track. Moonis, who was 15 at the time, tried to stop the approaching train by signalling to the driver at which the train slowed down, but did not stop. Moonis, meanwhile, told the man to lie flat on the tracks. "Though the driver applied the brakes, the engine and two coaches went over the man before the train came to a halt," remembers Moonis. The man was then pulled to safety.
Ipi and Moonis are among the 23 children who will take home the National Bravery Award this Republic Day, nine of whom are girls and 14 boys. Eight of the children are from the Northeast states.
"I cannot watch anyone dying," says Moonis. "I was scared myself, but I had to save him. The man was trying to commit suicide as he was very poor." He later thanked me, says Moonis, now a Class XII student.
At 10, the youngest awardee is Freedy Nongsiej from Meghalaya. While strolling on a river bank, he had heard someone screaming for help. "He jumped into the river and pulled the boy out of water," says his caretaker from Meghalaya. Freedy smiles -- he cannot speak Hindi or English.
On March 11 last year, 10-year-old Lovelystar K Sohphoh, also from Meghalaya, rescued a 12-year-old girl from a fire. A couple had left their two children home in the West Khasi Hills district of the state. Their daughter had started a fire to cook, which soon went out of control and engulfed the kitchen and the nearby house. Lovelystar heard the children's cries and rushed to help. The unconcious younger child was rushed to the hospital but died. The girl was saved.
The other children have similar stories of valour to recount. Behind the honour, all of them have simple dreams like others their age. "I don't feel any special, but I feel happy," says Anoop M from Kerela. "I want to become a soldier," says Vishnudas, another awardee from Kerela.
The National Bravery Awards scheme was begun by the Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW) in 1957. The awardees will be given financial assistance until they complete their schooling. They will also receive a medal, certificate and a cash reward. Since its inception, the ICCW has awarded 800 children.
Next: List of National Bravery Awards recipients
Bravery Award 2010 recipients:
* Kalpana Sonowal and Rekhamoni Sonowal (Assam)
* Rahul Kurrey and Parvati Amlesh (Chhattisgarh)
* Anoop M and Raj Narayanan (Kerala)
* Rohit Maruti Mulik (Maharashtra)
* Mohammad Nurul Huda (Manipur)
* Freedy Nongsiej and Lovelystar K Sohphoh (Meghalaya)
* Lalmawizuali (Mizoram)
* Gurjeevan Singh (Punjab)
* Late Chhampa Kanwar and Shrawan Kumar (Rajasthan)
* Bibek Sharma (Sikkim)
* Uttam Kumar (Uttar Pradesh)
* Late Shruti Lodhi (Uttarakhand)
* Sunita Murmu (West Bengal)
Chhampa Kanwarwas just 6 when she lost her life trying to save her sister's life. Her father, Khet Singh from Rajasthan, says, "The incident occurred on November 2, 2009. We were away from home and Chhhampa was playing with her siblings when the hut caught fire. All of them ran out of the house but Poonam (7) was left behind."Seeing her sister trapped in the fire, Chhampa too went back in to save her. She too, however, got trapped. "Both died," says Singh and falls silent.
Shruti Lodhi'smother, Sunita, says, "I miss her today. I will miss her every day of my life. On April 18 last year, was running for a marathon, in which more than 2,000 children were participating. On the route, a tree began to fall, but before getting trapped under it, she screamed to warn the other children. She also pushed others away to save their lives." Several children were injured and were taken to the hospital, where Shruti succumbed to her injuries. Shruti was thirteen years old.
Source: Indian Express