Sikkimese youth selected for civilian bravery award

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Gangtok, Jan 5 (UNI) Twenty-two-year-old Pratap Rai has been selected for Sarvottam Jeewan Raksha padak, the highest civilian bravery award of the country.

Rai saved the lives of several people from drowning when the bus they were traveling fell into the Teesta in October 2006.

In a letter to the state government, under secretary at the Union Ministry of Home affairs Arvind Mukherjee informed that the President had approved the name and recommendation sent by the former for the bravery award.

The Ministry had asked the state government to organise an investiture ceremony at a time and date convenient to present the decoration which includes a medallion and certificate as well as a miniature medal that can be worn at official ceremonies and state functions. He will also get a lump sum cash award of Rs 75,000 along with the medallion and the certificate.

On October 25, a Sikkim Nationalised Transport bus plunged into the Teesta river which killed 22 passengers and 44 others were injured.

At the time of the accident, Pratap, a resident of Samardung slum, was a witness to what was happening from across the river, near which the accident occurred. With daunting courage, he risked his life and swam across the heavy current of the river and rescued three people from drowning. He also helped the rescue agencies in the evacuation of the injured persons to local hospitals.

For his bravery, Pratap had already received the state Jeewan Raksha Puraskar during the Independence day celebrations last year.

The award included a citation and Rs 10,000 cash reward.

This is the second time a Sikkimese boy has bagged the Sarvottam Jeewan raksha padak. Earlier, the award was posthumously awarded to Prem Pariyar, a rafting guide in 2,000 for a rare display of indomitable courage and response to the call of duty.

Pariyar had saved six people, which included tourists from drowning during a rafting expedition.

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