Four years ago, Adrika Goyal, a 6-year-old, was in her house in Morena, Madhya Pradesh when a fire broke out. She desperately tried to escape, but ended up getting caught in the situation and critically injured her legs.
“She went into such a situation that doctors worried that it could develop depression in her,” Adrika’s father, Akshat Goyal tells the Times of India.
Yesterday, Adrika, who is now a 10-year-old, walked alongside her brother Kartik, 14, to receive the bravery award from President Ram Nath Kovind.
The tragic incident had affected Adrika mentally and physically. The medical treatments were failing, and doctors had warned her that she might not be able to walk again.
Her state of mind was nowhere near improving.
“Despite treatment, I was not able to stand properly. Several people had started showing pity on my situation. I was also very upset and felt dejected,” Adrika tells the publication.
Her parents then enrolled her for taekwondo classes, hoping that martial arts would do the miracle that medical treatments were failing to do.
Fortunately, the classes had their intended effect. Adrika’s confidence slowly returned, and her legs regained their lost strength.
On April 2, 2018, a riot broke out in the Madhya Pradesh town as a result of a protest against the dilution of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Rioters were pelting stones at the Uttar Pradesh- Chhattisgarh Express train, and the passengers were held captive.
Adrika and Kartik, who live close to the station came to know of these riots. Unaware of the politics and nonchalant about their own safety, the siblings rushed home to get cooked food and water to serve the passengers inside the train and help them stay well-fed and hydrated.
“Our home is just 200 metres away from Morena station,” Goyal told TOI, adding that
“Both kids wanted to help the passengers. They ran from one coach to [the] other to provide water and food items to the passengers.
Even we were not aware that they were helping the passengers in a situation when protestors were pelting stones on the train. Soon, their videos and photos went viral on social media. Others also joined us and started helping [out].”
The immense courage and compassion displayed by the Goyal siblings led to them receiving the bravery award. The duo also has several other achievements to their name. While Adrika is a world record holder and the district brand ambassador of the “Save Girl Child” campaign, Kartik holds a national record for being the youngest sketcher.
Interestingly, for the past 61 years, the bravery awards were organised by the Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW), which is an NGO. From this year, the selection of children for the award has been brought under the Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)