It was festival time at the Nattadreeswarar Temple at Kangeyampalayam village in Modakurichi block here. More than 50,000 people from different parts of Erode and its neighbouring districts had gathered at the temple, which was located in the middle of Cauvery river, to celebrate the Chithirai Thiruvizha on April 13 last year.
A 16-year-old girl, who arrived at the temple with her family, was trying to wash her hands in the river, when she fell into it and was caught in the strong current. A 13-year-old boy, who was taking bath in the river, heard the girl’s parents scream for help. Braving the strong current, the boy rescued the girl.
E. Suganthan is one among the 22 young heroes selected to receive the highest national honour for their courageous act – National Bravery Award – this year. “When I saw the girl caught in the current and struggling for life, I did not think of anything. All I thought was to save her. So I dived into the water,” said Suganthan over phone from New Delhi. Son of a daily-wage labourer living in Velampalayam village, Sugathan was a Standard VIII student.
“Even my father jumped into the river to save me. But he could not swim against the strong water and reach me. I was being dragged into the deeper part of the river and my hope of survival was fading fast. But Suganthan managed to reach me on time and pulled me out of danger,” S. Krithika, recollected.
“I am alive today because of him,” said an emotional Krithika, who is now pursuing Plus-Two at the Modakurichi Government Girls Higher Secondary School. Suganthan is the only boy selected from Tamil Nadu to receive the national honour this year, said Chief Educational Officer K. Sri Devi.
“If I see someone in trouble again, I will not hesitate to help them,” says Suganthan, who is now studying in Standard IX at the Government Boys Higher Secondary School in Modakurichi.
The young brave heart will receive the award from the Prime Minister during the Republic Day celebrations.