When Gaurav Kawduji Sahastrabuddhe’s name was called out, a moist-eyed Rekha Sahastrabuddhe, his mother, climbed the stage with a photo frame of Gaurav. Her son had lost his life in a bid to save four others. He is one of the two posthumous awardees of the National Bravery Awards 2015. Though honoured with the highest Indian award for bravery for children, Gaurav’s father Kawduji Sahastrabuddhe said, “When my wife and I saw all these children here, it struck us more that Gaurav was no more.”
Twenty-five children, three girls and 22 boys, were felicitated in New Delhi on Monday afternoon by India Council for Child Welfare (ICCW) with the National Awards for Bravery 2015. Their acts were as diverse as their backgrounds. The ICCW had instituted the Bharat Award for an exceptionally outstanding, meritorious and gallant deed in 1987.
In 2014, Gaurav had jumped into the Ambazari Lake in Nagpur district when he spotted four drowning children. He saved all of them but couldn’t save himself. His body was subsequently recovered by fishermen.
His father, a carpenter, and his mother, a maid, were proud but wished Gaurav was present to receive the award like the %other recepients. Kawduji, recalling his son’s selfless deed said, “It wasn’t that he was an excellent swimmer. I had specifically told him not to dive, but you know how teenagers are. By the time he got the fourth one out, he was totally exhausted.”
The Masaipet train-bus mishap had shocked the nation in July 2014 when 20 students and the driver of a school bus were killed, and 19 children were injured, when a Secunderabad-bound passenger train rammed into a school bus at an unmanned level crossing near Masaipet village in Medak district of Telangana, about 40km from Hyderabad. They were students of Kakatiya Techno School in Toopran. Malla Goud’s three children — Ruchitha, Varun and Shruthi — were on board. As the driver who was hours behind schedule rushed through the crossing, the children had reportedly screamed in panic asking him to slow down. When Ruchitha saw the Nanded train fast approaching towards them, she pushed Varun and another friend from the window, but failed to rescue Shruthi. Ruchitha has been felicitated with the Geeta Chopra Award for her quick-thinking and courage.
Latha Malla Goud, her mother, recalling those gory scenes said, “Shruthi’s body was mangled and headless. Varun was in coma for 34 days after sustaining a head injury. Now both Ruchitha and Varun are fine.” Asked what she’d like to grow up to become, 9-year-old Ruchitha says, “A lawyer. To differentiate between good and bad.” Her father Malla Goud lovingly says, “Didn’t I show you the Supreme Court the other day? That’s where all the lawyers sit.”
The children will receive their awards from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the eve of Republic Day and will get an opportunity to participate in the Republic Day parade too. ICCW president Gita Siddhartha said that the awardees, apart from a medal, certificate and cash, will be given financial assistance until they complete schooling. The other recepients include Arjun Singh (16, Uttarakhand) who won the Sanjay Chopra Award who fought a tiger to save his mother. Ramdinthara (15, Mizoram), Rakeshbhai Shanabhai Patel (13, Gujarat) and Aromal SM (12, Kerala) received the Bapu Gaidhani Award. Ramdinthara saved two people from high tension wires and electrocution. Rakesh saved a child from drowning, and Aromal single-handedly saved two women from drowning.
Kashish Dhanani (Gujarat), Maurice Yengkhom, Chongtham Kuber Meitei (both from Manipur), Angelica Tynsong (Meghalaya), Sai Krishna Akhil Kilambi (Telangana), Joena Chakraborty and Sarwanand Saha (Chhattisgarh), Dishant Mehndiratta (Haryana), Beedhovan, Nithin Philip Mathew, Abhijith KV, Anandu Dileep, Muhammad Shamnad (all from Kerala), Mohit Mahendra Dalvi, Nilesh Revaram Bhil, Vaibhav Ramesh Ghangare (all from Maharashtra), Abhinash Mishra (Odisha), Bhimsen alias Sonu and late Shivansh Singh (both from Uttar Pradesh), were other recepients.