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Little bravehearts who risked their lives to save others: Tales of valour from across India

A total of 18 such salute-worthy children — seven girls and 11 boys — have been selected for the National Bravery Awards this year

delhi Updated: Jan 19, 2018 07:53 IST
A Mariyam Alavi
A Mariyam Alavi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
delhi news,bravery awards,Republic day
National Bravery Awards 2017 winners at a press preview in New Delhi on Thursday.(Mohd Zakir/HT PHOTO)

F Lalmalsawma, a sub-divisional agriculture officer from Mizoram,seemed out of place sharing the stage with around 12 children at the Indian Council of Children Welfare.

He was also the only one holding a portrait — one of his 17-year-old son. His son, F Lalchhandama, had lost his life while trying to save his friend from drowning in a river.

Lalmalsawma, who never once betrayed his emotions, said that once while they were watching a martyr come home on TV, his son had asked him how he would react if he ever died.

“I had told him then that if he lost his life for the country, or helping a friend or saving anyone, I would not cry. I would salute him,” said the stoic-faced father.

A total of 18 such salute-worthy children — seven girls and 11 boys — have been selected for the National Bravery Awards this year. They were invited to an event at Indian Council for Child Welfare and will receive their awards from the Prime Minister on the eve of the Republic Day. Three of these children are being awarded posthumously.

Nazia, an 18-year-old aspiring IAS officer from Agra, has been awarded the highest prize, the Bharat Award of ₹50,000, for collecting evidence against and reporting a gambling and betting ring operating out of a house next to hers, despite threats to the lives of her family.

She is not new to such bravery awards. In 2015, when she was in Class 10, she saw two men abduct a young girl on their motorcycle from the Sadarbhatti area.

“I chased them, and tried knocking one off his bike by grabbing his collar. I caught on to the girl’s frock and never let go. Finally I was able to pull her off. I even dropped her home. I got the Rani Laxmibai Bravery Award from our state government. The people in my locality come to me when they have a problem. Even with the gambling and betting racket, others from the locality had come and asked me to help,” said the woman now pursuing a BA degree.

The Geeta Chopra Award and Sanjay Chopra Award, both worth ₹40,000 each, are being awarded to Karnataka’s Netravati M Chavan posthumously, for saving a drowning 10-year-old and Karanbeer Singh, who saved 15 children from his school bus that had toppled into an open drain, respectively.

F Lalmalsawma, father of F Lalchhandama, had lost his life while trying to save his friend from drowning in a river. (Mohd Zakir/HT PHOTO)

Three children — 14-year-old Betshwajohn Peinlang from Meghalaya, seven-year-old Mamata Dalai from Odisha, and 13-year-old Sebastian Vincent from Kerala — will get the Bapu Gadhianvi Award worth ₹25,000. While Betshwajohn had saved his younger sibling from a burning hut, Mamata had saved her older sister from the jaws of a crocodile. Vincent had rescued a friend who had been stuck under his overturned bicycle on a railway track with a train headed towards them.

The others, including Lalchhandama, will receive a ₹20,000 prize. However, their stories are no less inspiring. Laxmi Yadav, when she was 15, foiled the plans of three men who had abducted her with the intention of sexually assaulting her. She pushed them away, and escaped to a police station. The three men were arrested.

“Girls should not be scared. If we are harassed, we need to raise the loudest voices. If we keep silent, they (the perpetrators) will feel emboldened,” she said.

Each one of the children is testament to the fact that age is just a number, and courage can come in all sizes. In split second decisions, each one chose fight over flight.

“I was not sacred, even when I saw the train coming towards me. I was just concentrating on saving my friend. It is only now, when I think back, I realise how scary it all was,” said Sebastian.

Nazia, an 18-year-old aspiring IAS officer from Agra, has been awarded the highest prize, the Bharat Award of ₹50,000, for collecting evidence against and reporting a gambling and betting ring operating out of a house next to hers, despite threats to the lives of her family. (Mohd Zakir/HT PHOTO)

First Published: Jan 19, 2018 07:52 IST