‘There is a thin line between courage and stupidity’

An evening of October 2002 is freshly etched in the memory of Dr Albel Singh Kang and his wife when they came in confrontation with an armed robber.

Written by Sameer Kumar Sharma | Ludhiana | Published: February 18, 2009 1:54:22 am

First Indian to win Australian Bravery Decoration recounts 2002 incident

An evening of October 2002 is freshly etched in the memory of Dr Albel Singh Kang and his wife when they came in confrontation with an armed robber.

Dr Kang decided instantaneously to confront the robber. Years later,his quick decision to fight the robber rather than sneaking away was well-recognised by the Australian government,making him the first Indian to be adorned with the bravery award as part of the Australian Bravery Decorations in 2005.

Presently attached to the Blacktown Courthouse in Sydney Police as senior Sherrif,Dr Kang – who had otherwise been trained to be an engineer at the Punjab Agricultural University — was also the first Sikh to join Australian Police Services in 1998. He is presently in the city on his first visit to India ever since he was honoured by the Australian government.

Recounting the incident which shocked his wife so much that she has never since gone for evening walks,he says,“There was no time to decide whether to sneak away (though he could easily have) with my wife or confront the robber. What happened then was simply my reaction to the incident.”

On the day in 2002,Dr Kang and his wife Sarabjeet were confronted by an armed robber when they were having their evening stroll in the neighbourhood of Rooty Hills in Sydney.

“At gun point,the robber asked us to give all our belongings. I showed him my empty pockets and told him that I was not carrying my wallet. He then turned around and started to leave the place in a haste. However,I quickly pounced on him and tried to snatch the pistol from him,” Dr Kang narrates.

“It was an instantaneous decision,” he continues. “While I was struggling to disarm him,my wife hit him and soon we were able to overpower him. In the meantime,we kept yelling for help,” he adds.

He said nobody came for their help all the while they were struggling to hold the robber until the police came to their rescue. “I was a little scared,lest he break free and shoot us,but there was no help from the passers-by.”

Years later,his act of courage did not only make him stand out among others in the neighbourhood but also provided the rare distinction of Australian Bravery Decorations.

He says bravery is in-built in a man and such situations only bring it forth.

“In such a situation,there is no time to think,so whatever you do stems out of the inner courage. At the same time,it is also true that there is a thin line between courage and stupidity. Any lapse on my part could have got both of us killed.”

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