Twenty-five children, between the ages of 8 and 17, will receive the National Bravery Award from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 23. Four of them will get the award posthumously. The Indian Express meets six winners as they recall their acts of courage.
TEJASWEETA PRADHAN (17) and SHIVANI GOND (16)
The duo from Darjeeling, who will receive the Geeta Chopra Award, helped police and NGO MARG to catch sex traffickers. Maiti Nepal, an NGO, had contacted MARG to track a minor girl who had gone missing. With the girl being tracked down to Delhi, and the CBI informed, the two girls were roped in to connect with the minor girl on Facebook. “We told the girl that we were poor orphans and needed to make money. She also said that we would have to dance at bars and have sex with some clients. We became sure that she was a trafficker,” said Gond.
Pradhan remembers feeling a little nervous when the trap was laid at the Indo-Nepalese border. “We were sitting in a hotel. A woman and man, who had come to take us, just said ‘let’s go’. They were, however, apprehended,” she said.
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SUMIT MAMGAIN (15)
When Mamgain’s older cousin Ritesh was being dragged away by a leopard at Manoharpur in Uttarakhand, he told Mamgain, “Tu bhaag ja, tujhe bhi kha dalega (Run away, else it’ll eat you up as well)”. But Mamgain decided to fight the leopard and save his cousin’s life. He is getting the Sanjay Chopra Award. The incident, which occurred on November 8, 2015, is still fresh in his mind. “I threw stones at the animal, but he started moving towards me, following which I caught its tail. It charged towards us again. I then pelted some more stones at the leopard, after which it finally ran away,” said Mamgain. Mamgain’s father Suresh Dutt Mamgain said he was “proud of the courage his son had shown”.
NEELAM DHRUV (8)
A native of Mujgahan village in Chhattisgarh, Neelam had gone to the nearby Sheetla pond on May 19 last year with four-year-old Tikeshwari. Suddenly, the four-year-old fell into the pond. “I jumped in, caught hold of her hair and pulled her out…,” said Neelam. Her desire to help others’ lives also comes from seeing her father’s death at an early age, said her uncle Sitaram Dhruv.
SONU MALI (9)
He had never seen a cobra until September 21 last year, but on that day, as the snake sat prepared to attack Mali’s classmate, he held the reptile with both his hands and took it to a field nearby. His mother said she was initially angry with him for risking his life, but later realised how courageous he was.
MOIRANGTHEM SADANANDA SINGH (14)
Having lost his father at a young age, Singh is very attached to his mother, with whom he stays in Manipur. So, on May 6, when she got an electric shock, Singh’s only thought was to save her.
“There was a short-circuit at our home and a three-pin socket, which was plugged in, exploded. She tried to unplug the socket but ended up getting an electric shock. I remembered studying that wood is a poor conductor of electricity, so I hit her hand with a wooden stick to weaken her grip. I then ran and got a blanket to put the fire out,” he said.
AKSHITA SHARMA (16) AND AKSHIT SHARMA (13)
The brother and sister duo were returning from school on December 8 last year to their home in Malviya Nagar when they found the iron door of their ground floor home open.
“I peeped through the window and saw two burglars. We caught hold of one of them and handed him over to the cops,” said Akshita.