Gunjan Sharma, one of the 11 children abducted in a school van in Assam’s Simaluguri town on Wednesday, pleaded with the gunman to take her alone hostage and let the others go, revealed one of the 10 little children who escaped. Gunjan herself was found early on Thursday morning near Bihubhor, near the Nagaland border, where the gunman freed her.

After the abduction in broad daylight, Gunjan entreated the inebriated gunman to free the other children even as he fired three rounds to keep off the people chasing him and forced the driver, at gunpoint, to turn the van towards Nagaland.

The gunman had hijacked the van to flee after he picked a quarrel with some people at Simaluguri. The driver, however, managed to bring the van to a halt at Seujpur village, allowing the other children to escape with him. Gunjam went with the kidnapper on foot towards Nagaland.

Award for bravery

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has announced an award of Rs. 2 lakh to Gunjan, who has since returned home. Simaluguri residents demanded that the State government recommend her name for a national bravery award.

Narrating her traumatic experience, Gunjan, daughter of a businessman and Class-VI student at the Kendriya Vidyalaya, Nazira, told mediapersons that the gunman had stuffed a pistol into her mouth to prevent her from responding when police and other security personnel called out her name during a search operation inside the jungle along the Assam-Nagaland border. However, she said, the gunman assured her that he would free her unharmed. Earlier, after taking her hostage, he took her across a stream and then into a jungle, where she spent the night without food.

Villagers near the border informed the police after Gunjan arrived in the village in the wee hours of Thursday.