KURNOOL: Lack of awareness has deprived the national bravery award winner of benefits associated with it. Rajesh was given the bravery award in 1995 for saving one-year old child from drowning when he was barely eight-year-old.
In the evening of December 1, 1995, Rajesh was crossing the Tungabhadra in a country raft at Rajoli along with his three maternal aunts, grand mother and a baby. Six others also occupied the boat which sank in the middle.
Scared, the boatman jumped into water to escape. The scared passengers moved hither thither resulting in capsizing of the boat. Six drowned and some swam to safety. Rajesh who did not know how to swim clasped a suitcase floating on the water and gathered the child who was about to drown.
The boy placed the baby on his shoulders and managed to float in the water for the next half-an-hour till a rescue boat saved them. At no point of time, he thought of abandoning the child.
Traumatised by the incident, Rajesh lost speech for 15 days and his vision got affected. He received the award from President K.R. Narayanan and Prime Minister I.K. Guzral in 1998.
Rajesh was in the second class when the incident occurred. By the time, he entered fifth class his bravery story entered the fourth class text book published by Government of Andhra Pradesh. His mother supported the family by weaving saris.