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National bravery awards for 20

Staff Reporter

- Photo: R. V. Moorthy

WINNERS ALL: The children selected for the National Bravery Awards-2008 in New Delhi on Saturday.

NEW DELHI: A 12-year-old boy who played a vital role in identifying the terrorists who planted bombs in Delhi, a 13-year-old who saved lives by raising an alarm over a faulty railway track, and a 14-year-old who dodged marriage to a 40-year-old are among 20 children chosen to receive the National Bravery Awards for 2008.

The names of these brave-hearts, who will be felicitated by the Prime Minister later this month, were announced by Indian Council for Child Welfare president Gita Siddharth here on Saturday.

The prestigious Sanjay Chopra and Geeta Chopra awards have gone to young Saumik Mishra from Uttar Pradesh, who foiled a theft attempt, and Prachi Santosh Sen of Madhya Pradesh, who saved four children from electrocution. Prachi, however, was grievously injured and had her fingers amputated.

Kavita Kanwar from Chhattisgarh gets the Bapu Gaidhani award posthumously. Along with Seema Kanwar, Kavita had saved the lives of three inmates who were caught in a kitchen fire in the Adivasi Kanya Ashram.

Asu Kanwar of Jodhpur in Rajasthan was also selected for the Bapu Gaidhani award. Asu put up a stiff fight against being married off to a 40-year-old farmer in exchange for money.

The girl opposed the match for two years and was finally saved by the intervention of a self-help group that in turn approached the District Women Development Agency to get the wedding called off.

Balloon seller Rahul, who hit the headlines after he identified the men who planted bombs on Barakhamba Road in the national Capital on September 13 last year, was awarded for his exemplary courage. Rahul, a prime eyewitness to the blasts, provided vital information about the suspects to the police. His statement helped the police make sketches of the suspects.

M. Marudu Pandi of Dindigul in Tamil Nadu was chosen for the honour for showing presence of mind and alerting railway officials about a fracture in the rail track and averting an accident.

Six-year-old twins from Bangalore, Gagan and Bhoomika J. Murthy, were rewarded for saving the life of a baby caught in a bull fight. The children, unmindful of the threat to their own lives, rescued the baby even as the crowds watched the bull fight.

Silver Kharbani of Meghalaya, who saved the life of her young cousin trapped in a fire, will also be one of the 20 who will get pride of place in the Republic Day Parade here on January 26 atop an elephant.

Yumkhaibam Addison Singh from Manipur was chosen for rescuing an eight-year-old from drowning in a pond, while Vishal Suryaji Patil from Maharashtra was awarded for rescuing a woman and her child from drowning. Shahanshah of Uttar Pradesh, Dinu K.G. of Kerala, Anita Kaura and Reena Kaura of West Bengal, Majjusha A of Kerala and Hina Quereshi of Rajasthan were also selected for saving people from drowning.

Manish Bansal of Jind in Haryana, who along with his older brother helped nab armed miscreants who had broken into their home, and Kritika Jhanwar of Rajasthan who also fought off robbers are among the 20 who will be hosted by President Pratibha Patil at a reception in Rashtrapati Bhavan. As part of the awards, financial assistance under the Indira Gandhi Scholarship Scheme is provided to those undertaking professional courses. For others, this assistance is provided till they complete their graduation. The Centre has reserved some seats for awardees in medical and engineering colleges and polytechnics.

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