When a sudden surge of water released from a local dam triggered a major flood in a small village in Assam, two young courageous friends were quick to take action. An action that went on to save the lives of 30 villagers.
When the flood hit, Pinki Gogoi and Puja Gogoi set out on their handmade bamboo raft, using rafting skills which they had picked up in their childhood, to rescue the vulnerable villagers left stranded. Some of them were standing in waist-high water, which was rising while they were unable to move.
The flood happened early in the morning in Hatilung village in Upper Assam’s Lakhimpur district, catching many people off guard. By 6am, Telegraph India reported that the waters had covered the village trees by 3 feet, and many backyards had been submerged.
Many locals had just enough time to gather their belongings, and carrying all they could in bags on their head, began to wade through the waters in search of safe grounds.
As many sought safety for themselves and their families, Pinki’s father Shishu Ram and brother Nipon had already begun to set up tents in safe evacuation zones nearby, ready to offer shelter to those rescued by the girls.
“Four to five people can get onto a plantain raft. I saw Mridu aunty and Sarumai aunty dangerously wading and so I asked them to get on our raft. It is always safe to sit on the raft as it helps to maintain balance in the current,” Pinki told Telegraph India.
The Lakhimpur district is highly susceptible to flooding, and the village in which the two girls live has seen the devastation left behind by floods in the past., “Although we don’t have floods every year, she (Pinki) was witness to the severe floods in 2008 and the people’s sufferings. This probably encouraged her to help others this time,” Pinki’s father continued.
This flood was caused by water from Ranganadi dam in Arunachal Pradesh breaching the embankment that protects villages like Hatilung, Bogolijan and Boalmari.
The girls’ quick-thinking and bravery has many already calling on the local government to honour them with bravery awards. “Both deserve awards for the courage and bravery they showed during an emergency and for saving lives. We plan to felicitate them and will write to Chief Minister, Sarbananda Sonowal, and Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju, to confer bravery awards on them,” Freedom Fighter Phaniram Das Foundation founder, Bikash Kumar Das, reported to Telegraph India.
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