NEW DELHI: He would always tell his parents that he would do something in his life that would do them proud. And 17-year-old Manoj Chohan lived up to their expectations when he rescued 40 people trapped in floodwaters two years ago. But unfortunately he did not live to see how his intrepid act would win him hearty praise and the prestigious National Bravery Award.
Manoj who despite being a heart patient stepped in to save many residents of his colony in Indore when it was hit by incessant rain in 2005 ago and died following a lung infection soon after is one of 24 children who have been selected for the National Bravery Award for 2006.
The Indian Council for Child Welfare announced the list of winners here on Thursday. The children 12 girls and 12 boys will be honoured by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here in the Capital on January 24 as part of Republic Day celebrations.
"Manoj underwent an open heart surgery in 2002 but that did not stop him from helping people. He collected wood, tubes and whatever he could lay his hands on in our house as well as the neighbours' to help out people trapped in 8 to 10 feet deep water. As he remained in dirty water for a long time, his lungs got filled with water and he died four days later," said his mother Parvati Chohan on Thursday.
The prestigious Geeta Chopra Award has been conferred on 13-year-old Vandana Yadav for fighting miscreants who tried to molest her, while the Sanjay Chopra Award is being shared by V. Teja Sai and C.V.S. Durga Doondieswar who lost their lives while rescuing their school mates from drowning in a river in Andhra Pradesh.
Asma Ayyub Khan, Sushila Gurjar and Shilpa Janbandhu have been chosen for the Bapu Gayadhani Award.
For Pooja Kabadwal, the youngest of all winners, the most exciting part of the award is the "elephant ride" that she would get to enjoy during the Republic Day Parade here on Rajpath.
The six-year-old saved her two little brothers when a robber looted valuables, killed their mother and set their house on fire. She picked up her brothers, opened the window and sat near it the whole night preventing them from getting suffocated.
If Sourabh Rajwade put up a brave fight with burglars, Sushila Gurjar displayed extraordinary resolve in revolting against child marriage in her village in Rajasthan.
Little Ankita Bhosale saved a girl almost double her age who had slipped into the river when they were washing clothes on the bank.
"She screamed for help as she was sinking in the river. I took out a sari from the bundle of clothes and threw it towards her. I held it tightly from one end and when she caught the other end, I began pulling her towards the bank," says Ankita, who dreams of becoming a police inspector.