HOTI LAL is a physically challenged teenager. He has speech impairment too, and his right hand is not fully functional. But, this 15-year-old’s act of bravery can put even normal human beings to shame. Hoti saved a girl from drowning.
The extraordinary deed of the teenager had won him gold medal at the 14th Godfrey Philips Bravery Award at Hotel Deep Palace. Hoti and six others were felicitated for making all the difference in the society for physical and social acts of bravery and inspiring many more.
Like any other day, Hoti Lal on June 17, 2004 had accompanied his father on the boat in River Yamuna in Mathura. He saw a woman Maya Devi along with two girls, Jyoti and Tanu were drowning in the river.
Seeing them sinking, he quickly jumped into the river and dragged all of them to the bank of river. Unfortunately, out of the three, only one girl was saved. “No, I did not fear,” said Hoti. His father, Jayaram, who was rowing the boat at the time said, “Everything just happened,” he said and added that Hoti did not even think twice while taking a plunge in the river. Despite his physical and mental abilities, the boy swims well, added his father. Hoti hails from a poor family from Mathura. His father ekes out his living by ferrying people from one shore of Yamuna to another. Hoti Lal was presented a gold medal, Rs 20,000 and a merit certificate. Silver Medal in the physical bravery category went to Jhaman Yadav, Ramesh Yadav, Rajesh Yadav, and Siddhartha Yadav for saving the lives of Chander Shekhar Choube, his wife and children risking their lives.
On April 5, 2004, Choube’s house caught fire due to leakage of LPG. On hearing the screams for help, they quickly rushed to the spot, entered the house and into the room which was engulfed in flames. Due to their courageous efforts they managed to successfully bring the family members out of fire. In the process, all the four received severe burns.
Barring Jhaman Yadav, the three others succumbed to their burns. All the four (three posthumously) were awarded silver medal, Rs 10,000 and merit certificate.
While the bronze medal in the category went to Praveen Kumar, who challenged a group of armed robbers and caught one of them on the spot, risking his life.
ON April 19, 2005, four robbers equipped with weapons attacked the house of a jeweler in Moradabad with the intention of looting. A lady member resisted their entry, following which she was stabbed by one of the thieves. Hearing commotion in the neighbouring house, Praveen rushed to find the reason. But he too was taken to task by the robbers. Without losing courage, Praveen fought the robbers and chased them away despite being fired at from a short-distance by the robbers.
But the undeterred Praveen chased them and caught one, who subsequently spilled the beans and others were also caught. In the Social Acts category Tularam Sharma won the gold, while Noor Mohammad silver and Rekha Tewari bronze.
Tularam has dedicated his life towards the elimination of child labour. In 1993 he had set up an organisation- Uttar Pradesh Grameen Majdoor Sanghathan for the welfare of labourers. Presently, his organisation has its presence in 7 cities of Uttar Pradesh. He has organised a series of padyatras to generate support for his demand to make law for an employment guarantee. He was given a gold medal, Rs 20,000 and a merit certificate.
Noor Mohammad bagged the silver medal for his devotion to social service in Meerut. He has been conducting various social activities, such as organizing free medical check up camps, polio camps, environment exhibitions, etc. since 1987.
Noor Mohammad has set free sewing and embroidery centres for poor girls and assisted poor families in getting their daughters married.
Dr Rekha Tewari from Lucknow bagged the bronze medal for her selfless service to the poor. She has changed the lives of a large number of people, and Laxmi is one among them. Laxmi, had to give up her education after VIII owing to some family problems. But Dr Tewari motivated Laxmi and made to pursue her education. Laxmi has cleared her 12th standard examination and has also completed courses in sewing and stitching. She is now doing her BA. Dr Tewari is spreading literacy and motivating others to learn a profession and earn their livelihood.
The awards were given away by chief secretary R Ramani. Harmanjeet Singh of Godfrey Philips gave an introductory speech and spoke about the Godfrey Philips awards.