The Boy Who Lived: A survival story

Photos by Sanjeev Verma
Text by Sahiba Chawdhary

In 2007, Ankit Rai was kidnapped from a playground near his home. After a frantic search was launched for the missing boy, Ankit’s kidnappers dumped him in the middle of two railway tracks, thinking he was dead.

A speeding train ran over the six and a half-year-old Ankit’s arm, but he escaped from the ordeal alive — but not without paying the price of losing an arm.

This file photo published on April 13, 2007 shows Lallan Rai with his son Ankit at the Fortis Escorts Hospital.

After gaining consciousness, Ankit lifted his amputated arm and somehow found his way home. This act redefined his life — he did not let the perpetrators decide his fate.

He later helped the police in nabbing the culprits who had demanded a ransom of Rs 7 lakh. They turned out to be tenants in the family’s house. Ankit’s courage earned him the National Bravery Award in January 2008.

Ankit with his father at their Faridabad residence.

Nine years later, photographer Sanjeev Verma went back to find the ‘boy who lived’ — now a cheerful teenager with an endearing smile. Ankit, who will turn the age of 16 in November, lives with his father and mother, Lallan and Pushpa, in Faridabad.

Ankit is a sprightly teenager who is well known in his Faridabad neighbourhood for his dance moves. He is a regular at a local dancing academy and is no less than any other aspirant.
Ankit poses on a bike.

He enjoys biking and dancing. He is currently enrolled in a local dancing academy, where he aspires to be a professional dancer like his idol and Bollywood star, Tiger Shroff.

Ankit fares well in studies. Recently, he joined a mainstream school and is a favorite of his teachers, who admire his zeal.
Ankit with his friends outside his school.
Like others of his age, he loves his electronic gadgets, be it laptops or smart phones.

When he’s not busy pulling off Shroff’s dance moves, Ankit likes to explore his gadgets.

He is an ardent pet lover too and loves to feed the street dogs of his locality.
Ankit loves to be on his own, not dependent on someone for anything. He does all household chores by himself and never lets his partial disability come in his way.
Ankit is popular amongst his friends.
Ankit looking back on the train tracks.

Despite a gruesome past, Ankit strives to overcome his disability. He lives life by the mantra of being positive and seeing the brighter side of life.

Editor: Zehra Kazmi
Web Producer: Harry Stevens