'Bravery award recipients role models for both youth and nation'

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New Delhi, Jan 23 (UNI) President Pratibha Devisingh Patil today expressed admiration for the courage of a barely teenage girl, who steadfastly resisted her family's efforts to marry her off underage and finally convinced them to desist from the of noxious practice.

Meeting the young recipients of the National Awards for Bravery-2007 at a function at Rashtrapati Bhavan today, Mrs Patil, who met each braveheart individually commended the children for showing exemplary courage in the face of overwhelming odds.

The President, a former Governor of Rajasthan expressed particular admiration for 13-year-old Congress Kunwar of the state who resisted her family's attempts to marry her off.

''Congress Kunwar not only stood up against members of the family but a social evil, which destroys the lives of many young girls in the country,'' Mrs Patil said noting that resisting a member of the family is sometimes much more difficult than resisting outsiders in a physical act of crime.

''If girls can come forward in this way, many social evils, which hurt women and girls, could be eliminated,'' she added.

The President also commended the other children for their bravery and said they were role models for not only for the youth but also for the nation.

A total of 22 children -- 18 boys and four girls -- have been conferred with the award, four of them posthumously.

The awardees include teenagers Babita (17) and Amarjeet (15) who swung into action to save their schoolmates when their bus fell into a canal and high school student Meher who fought off the murderer of her grandmother and younger brother.

The young awardees comprise one of the most endearing sights of the Republic Day parade -- mounted on gorgeously caparisoned elephants, a band of red-blazered bravehearts who abjured their own safety and rose above fear to display exemplary courage in saving their relatives or absolute strangers, apprehending criminals or fighting against obnoxious social practices.

The prestigious Bravery Award has been conferred on Babita and Amarjeet, students of Satkumbha Vidya Mandir in Kheri Gujjar village, Sonepat. Instead of escaping when their bus fell into the Western Yamuna Canal in August 2006, they helped the driver rescue the children, saving over half-a-dozen between them. Mizo girl Lalrempuii (14), who resisted a rapist at the cost of her life, is the posthumous recipient of the Geeta Chopra Award, while six-year-old Yuktarth Shrivastava of Rajnandgaon in Chhattisgarh, has been conferred the Sanjay Chopra Award, for fearlessly fending off stray dogs attacking his less than a year old sister, despite being bitten several times.

The recipients of the Bapu Gaidhani awards are 12-year-old Raipalli Vamsi, who saved five of the eight girls caught in a river in spate, 16-year-old Konthoujam Boney Singh who rescued three boys drowning though one of them succumbed and Amol Aghi (15), who doggedly pursued a band of robbers, who mercilessly killed him to escape unhindered.

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