Acts of Valour: Stories of the 25 Young Lionhearts Who Won the National Bravery Awards

“Bravery is a state of mind. A healthy body helps, but the prime moving force is the mind. Therefore, we need to make the mind strong,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he presented the National Bravery Awards to some of India’s most courageous children on January 23, 2016.

From a 15-year-old who saved his cousin from a leopard attack to a 9-year-old who lost her life trying to save two of her friends from drowning – these 25 children showed incredible bravery in the face of some very dangerous situations.

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The National Bravery Award scheme, initiated by the Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW), was started with the aim of awarding children in the age group of 6-18 years who display outstanding bravery and inspire other children with their actions. The awards consist of five categories, including the Bharat Award, Sanjay Chopra Award, Geeta Chopra Award, Bapu Gaidhani Award and the General National Bravery Awards. The awardees receive a medal, a certificate, and cash prize. Bharat Award winners get a gold medal, while the others receive silver. As a part of ICCW’s sponsorship program under the Indira Gandhi scholarship scheme, each child also receives financial assistance to complete schooling.

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Here are the incredibly inspiring stories of this year’s winners.

1. Tarh Peeju, Arunachal Pradesh

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On May 19, 2016, 9-year-old Tarh Peeju drowned while saving her friends Phassang Marry and Tarh Charu when they attempted to cross Pachin River in Naharlagun. A Class IV student at Alphabet Public School in Nirjuli, Tarh jumped into the turbulent river and dragged both Marry and Charu to safety. However, she herself was submerged and swept downstream by the strong current of the river. Displaying unbelievable courage, Tarh sacrificed her life in saving her friends and was posthumously conferred the Bharat Award (the top honour at the National Bravery Awards).

2. Tushar Verma, Chhattisgarh

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Tushar Verma of Chhattisgarh was presented the Bapu Gaidhani Award for exhibiting dauntless valour when his elderly neighbour’s house caught fire. Tushar didn’t just try to douse the flames, he risked his life and braved the raging inferno to rescue the elderly couple as well as their three cows and two bulls.

3. Roluahpuii, Mizoram

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Roluahpuii, a 13-year-old girl of Mizoram was given the Bapu Gaidhani Award posthumously for her timely and valorous act that saved two of her schoolmates from drowning. The incident occurred on the morning of March 3, 2016, when the teaching staff and students of a government school had gone to Tuivawl river for a picnic. Roluahpuii was playing with her friends when she heard the panicked screams of her schoolmates caught in a whirlpool in the 18-feet-deep river. Immediately diving in, Roluahpuii rescued two of her friends and was helping others when she was herself entrapped by the strong current and dragged inside the whirlpool.


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4. Payal Devi, Jammu and Kashmir

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5. Sumit Mamgain, Uttarakhand

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When 15-year-old Sumit Mamgain’s older cousin Ritesh was being dragged away by a leopard at Manoharpur in Uttarakhand, he told Sumit to run away and save his life. But the brave lad decided to fight the leopard and save his cousin’s life. Holding its tail, he hit it with a sickle. When the leopard charged towards him, he kept pelting stones at the animal till it finally ran away. For his exemplary courage, Mamgain was awarded the Sanjay Chopra Award.

6. H. Lalhriatpuii, Mizoram

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Another brave young girl from Mizoram, H. Lalhriatpuii won the Bapu Gaidhani Award posthumously for sacrificing her life in an effort to save her cousin. On the morning of March 18, 2016, Lalhriatpuii and her elder brother were unloading goods from the car when, accidentally, the car slid downward on the steep road with her 2-year-old cousin inside. Failing in his attempt to stop the hurtling car, Lalhriatpuii’s brother moved back and advised her to do the same as it had become dangerous. However, the determined girl continued in her attempts to stop the car. While she managed to safely pull her cousin out of the car, Lalhriatpuii was run over by the car and succumbed to her injuries.

7. Sonu Mali, Rajasthan

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Nine-year-old Sonu Mali 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 that she was initially furious with him for risking his life, but later realised how courageous her son had been in his effort to save his friend’s life.

8. Badarunnisa KP, Kerala

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A Class 12 student from the village of Kalathumpadi in Kerala, Badarunnisa KP valiantly risked her life to save her friend and her mother who were drowning in a pond. On May 4, 2015, 15-year-old Vismaya and her mother had gone to a pond to take a bath. The girl slipped into the water and started drowning. Her mother Raji jumped to rescue her but failed in her attempt and started drowning too. Seeing this, Badarunnisa immediately jumped into the 20-feet-deep pond to rescue her friend and her mother and pulled them to safety.

9. Mohan Sethy, Odisha

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A Class 7 student from Cuttack,  Mohan Sethy was recognised for saving his friend from drowning in a river. On June 28, 2015, Mohan and his friend Sabyasachi had gone to Genguti river to take a bath. While frolicking in the river, Sabyasachi accidentally slipped into deep waters. Seeing his friend drowning, Mohan shouted for help but to no avail. He then desperately dived into the water and dragged his friend to safety with the help of a cloth.

10. Siya Vamansa Khode, Karnataka

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Fourteen-year-old Siya Vamansa Khode from Dharwad risked her own life to save her 2-year-old brother from certain death due to electrocution. In April 2015, Siya was playing hide and seek with her cousins when she decided to go to the rooftop. The toddler followed her; but after playing for a while she suddenly realised that her brother was nowhere to be seen. Horrified to find him in contact with a live wire, she held him by his shirt (she knew touching him directly meant risking her own death) and pulled him away to safety.

11. Thanghilmang Lunkim, Nagaland

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Thanghilmang Lunkim, a Class 6 student, was recognised for saving the life of another student after the latter had fallen into a river while crossing a river bridge. On the afternoon of September 15, 2015, two students, who were brothers, were walking on the Mezoma bridge. As the bridge was slippery, one of them fell off it and was swept away by the raging current. His helpless brother screamed for help. Thanghilmang, who was returning from school, heard his screams and rushed to the spot. He jumped into the 5-feet-deep river and swam almost 120 metres to reach the student. Getting a hold of the drowning boy, he returned to the shore and pulled him out safely.

12. Praful Sharma, Himachal Pradesh

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Hailing from Mandi in Himachal Pradesh, 9-year-old Praful Sharma won a bravery award for saving his school bus from rolling into a ditch. The incident occurred on December 13, 2015, when children of a school were on an educational tour. While returning from Dharamshala, they stopped for a short break and alighted from the bus. However, one child fiddled with the brakes and the bus started moving down the hill. Praful, who was on the bus, rushed and jumped into the driver’s seat, applied the brakes and stopped the bus. His prompt action and sense of duty averted a major accident.

13. Tankeswar Pegu, Assam

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Tankeswar Pegu, who hails from Rongamati Doital Gaon in Assam’s Golaghat district, saved a woman from drowning in the Dhansiri river. On June 20, 2016, Tankeshwar was going to tuition classes when he was startled by a voice from the river, screaming for help. When he looked around, he saw a woman being swept away by the river. Immediately jumping in, he managed to catch a hold of her by the hair and pull her to the bank, saving her.

14. Adithyan MP Pillai, Kerala

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Adithyan Pillai’s courageous and selfless act saved three children from drowning in a river. On May 19, 2016, three children, Jaibal, Abel and Maleesha, had gone to the Pamba river. While bathing, one of them accidentally slipped into the deep side of the river and started crying loudly. Seeing this, the other two children jumped into the water to save him but both started drowning. Adithyan, who saw them, immediately jumped into the 11-feet-deep river and caught Abel and pushed him towards the bank. Then, he asked Maleesha to hold on to Jaibal and catching a hold of Jaibal’s hair, he pulled both of them towards the shore.

15. Anshika Pandey, Uttar Pradesh

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Lucknow girl Anshika Pandey was conferred the bravery award for fearlessly fighting her kidnappers on September 14, 2015. A Class 11 student, Anshika was on her way to school when she was attacked by goons. They tried to pull her inside the car and before she could scream for help, one of the goons gagged her and tried to throw acid into her eyes. Not one to give up, Anshika somehow shielded her face and fought back valiantly, forcing the goons to flee the scene. Anshika was found in a pool of blood by her friend Garima, who immediately wrapped her hand in a handkerchief and took her home.

16. Naman Beniwal, New Delhi

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A talented child actor from New Delhi, Naman Beniwal set a wonderful example when he saved a child from drowning in a 12-feet-deep canal. While holidaying with his family in Sonipat, Naman noticed a child being washed away by strong currents in the Bawana canal while trying to rescue his drifting footwear. He jumped in, swam up to the child and brought him up to the shore, thus saving his life.

17. Binil Manjaly, Kerala

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Binil Manjaly from Kerala was returning home from a movie when his sister Merin saw a 10-year-old boy wailing and calling out for help. Three of the boy’s family members were drowning in Periyar Canal after the auto they were traveling in accidentally fell into the 20-feet-deep water body. Binil instantly took off his clothes and jumped into the water. Catching a hold of the boy’s mother, he brought her to the bank before returning to search for the other two. However, despite his frantic search, he couldn’t find them. Their bodies were later recovered by the police.

18. Nisha Dilip Patil, Maharashtra

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Nisha Patil, a student from Bhadgaon village in Jalgaon district in Maharashtra, was conferred the bravery award for saving the life of a 6-month-old infant Purvi, who was trapped inside a room that was on fire on January 14, 2015. A Class 12 student, Nisha was on her way back from college when she saw smoke coming out from her neighbour’s house. Realising that the infant was inside the burning house, she immediately entered the house and brought the baby out.

19. Akhil K Shibu, Kerala

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Akhil K Shibu’s swift actions and presence of mind ensured that a man did not drown in a 12-meter-deep river. When Harinarayanan was taking a bath at Ramapuram ghat of river Pampa, he accidentally got entangled in the strong current and was swept away into the deep water. Akhil and his friends were playing football at the river banks when he heard the drowning man’s panicked screams. Akhil promptly jumped in and swam to rescue Harinarayan, who desperately grabbed the boy. Realising that they were both going underwater due to this, Akhil released him, went under the water and started pushing him towards the shore and safety.

20. Neelam Dhruv, Chhattisgarh

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A native of Mujgahan village in Chhattisgarh, Neelam Dhruv had gone to the nearby Sheetla pond on May 19 last year with her friend, 4-year-old Tikeshwari. When the 4-year-old suddenly slipped and fell into the deep side of the pond, Neelam jumped in, caught hold of her hair and pulled her out. Her uncle Sitaram Dhruv said that having lost her father at an early age, Neelam had always wanted to help others in whichever way she could.

21. Moirangthem Sadananda Singh, Manipur

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Moirangthem Sadananda Singh, a 14-year-old from Manipur, was recognised for rescuing his mother from severe electrocution. It was raining incessantly on May 6, 2016, when an electric water pump (connected by an extension cord to socket in the kitchen) short-circuited and exploded in a burst of sparks. When Moirangthem’s mother tried to unplug the pin, she got a shock. Hearing her cries, Moirangthem rushed to the kitchen and found his mother in the grip of an electric current. He immediately broke the wooden curtain rod and used it to loosen his mother’s hand before rushing her to the hospital.

22. Akshit and Akshita Sharma, New Delhi

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Akshita Sharma (16) and Akshit Sharma (13) were recognised for fearlessly confronting two miscreants who had broken into their house, and capturing one of them. 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. They peeped through the window and saw two burglars. When they entered, the burglars tried to escape but the duo managed to catch one of them. Taking the bag from him, they raised an alarm, following which some neighbours came and called the police.


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23. Tejasweeta Pradhan and Shivani Gond, West Bengal

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Tejasweeta Pradhan (18) and Shivani Gond (17) from Darjeeling, West Bengal, helped the police and NGO MARG in uncovering an international sex racket that led to the arrest of the mastermind in Delhi. The minor girls befriended the traffickers on Facebook in May 2016. They then spent days communicating with them by telephone, convincing the traffickers that they were willing to run away from home before leading them to the trap laid by the police. For showing immense courage in the face of danger and fearlessly helping the police, the duo were awarded the prestigious Geeta Chopra Award.

Source for all photos: Twitter

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