Twenty children who won the National Bravery Award will most likely miss out on their time in the limelight this Republic Day. This is due to the controversy surrounding the Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW) after the NGO in charge of the awards had unwittingly found itself in trouble with the Centre.
The Indian government broke off any connection it had with the awards after the Delhi High Court ordered a probe into the NGO, questioning their 'financial integrity', reports Times of India.
The children were shortlisted by the ICCW, which has been giving out the bravery awards every year on January 26 since 1957. The NGO's chairperson, Gita Siddhartha, said that she has written to the Prime Minister's office as well as the defence ministry but hasn't received a reply yet.
Gita added that since these were their awards, the NGO would personally give it to the children in case the ministry does not.
"These awards were initiated by us and we do everything from scratch to identify these kids. What the ministry has to do with their felicitation is entirely their discretion. The move is just very disappointing. We will tell the brave children and their parents once we get more clarity," Gita was quoted as saying by TOI.
The Centre has instated its own bravery awards, 'Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar' for which it has separately shortlisted 26 children.
Among the 20 children shortlisted by the ICCW for the National Bravery Awards, 13-year-old Soumyadip Jana was a survivor in Jammu while facing terrorists who lobbed a grenade at his front door. He pushed his mother and sister out of the way while he got the full force of the attack. He suffered from splinter injuries in his body. Due to the severity of the injuries, he went into a coma for three months. The left side of his body is paralysed and he is suffering from vision and hearing loss.
Another young girl, eight-year-old Gurugu Hima Priya, managed to survive an attack by terrorists at the Sujawan army camp in Jammu. While a 15-year-old girl named Nitisha Negi will be given the award posthumously since she passed away in Adelaide, Australia while saving the life of her friend who was drowning.