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HindustanTimes Fri,22 Aug 2014

School leaves bravery award winner in the lurch

Bharat Khanna, Hindustan Times  Mansa, February 22, 2013
First Published: 21:12 IST(22/2/2013) | Last Updated: 00:28 IST(23/2/2013)

Awarded for his bravery by the President, Gurjiwan Singh (14) of Mansa has been declined re-admission in local Police Public School after he remained absent for 20 days due to an injury he suffered on the school premises.

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Undeterred by a hail of stones and bullets, Gurjiwan Singh showed courage and hurled back stones at armed men who were trying to loot a bank at Phaphde Bhai Ke village in Mansa district in February 2010. He kept hurling stones to keep robbers at bay till other villagers arrived on the scene and overpowered them.

A resident of Khattriwala village, Gurjiwan Singh used to work as a domestic help at the home of Phaphde Bhai Ke village sarpanch.

For extraordinary courage he showed in foiling a bank robbery and playing a pivotal role in the arrest of armed robbers, Gurjiwan received the national bravery award from President Pratibha Patil on Republic Day in 2011. The teenager was also honoured with Rs. 10,000 and a commendation certificate by the then Faridkot range DIG Jatindra Jain.

Appeals go unheeded

The boy is now being denied education in the Police Public School, Mansa, where he was admitted with the promise of free education. Wearing the dress he had received at the PPS, Gurjiwan told Hindustan Times that he lost his father at the age of three. His family, including mother, two elder brothers and two younger sisters, are working as labourers and domestic helps to eke out a living.

Gurjiwan, who was also honoured with the Godfrey Philips bravery award, which included Rs. 50,000 and a gold medal at Chandigarh on January 26, maintained that he was expelled from school after he didn't attend classes for more than 20 days as he had suffered an injury on forehead on the school premises.

Gurjiwan's elder brother Mangu Singh, who works as a driver, told HT that, "Two months ago, we called up at the office of State Child Welfare Council, Chandigarh, and sought re-admission for Gurjiwan but we were asked to show medical certificates. A month ago, the school authorities denied admission to him and we along with Gurjiwan returned hurt and empty-handed."

Living in abject poverty with his family at Khattriwala village, Gurjiwan Singh said, "Few months into the school, I met with an accident in a washroom and suffered an injury on the forehead. They expelled me from school because I was absent for more than 20 days. I made several requests for re-admission, but in vain."

'No discrimination'

PPS principal Jatinder Sharma said, "Nine months ago, I had written to the Child Welfare Council in Chandigarh and Delhi about Gurjiwan's absence from school for long time. Two months back, we received a call from the Child Welfare Council to look into Gurjiwan case but he doesn't seem to be interested in studying and didn't approach us for admission. There was no discrimination against him and he left the school for unknown reasons."

Deputy commissioner Amit Dhaka, who is also chairman of the Child Welfare Council, said, "The issue is not in my knowledge and Gurjiwan didn't reveal anything about it to me. He never approached us regarding this issue. Even we have honoured him on August 15 last year."

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