Patna, Jan 27: Shail Devi, who saved the lives of 10 persons belonging to the minority community during a recent arson in Muzaffarpur, on Monday hoisted the tricolour at the Bihar Congress headquarters in Patna on the occasion of 66th Republic Day.
Shail Devi unfurled the tricolour at Sadaquat Ashram, the state headquarters of Congress, in the presence of state President Ashok Choudhary and others.
Choudhary handed over a citation from Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi to the 59-year-old woman and a cheque of Rs 51,000 in recognition of her bravery.
Devi has emerged as an unlikely hero of the 18 January arson in Azizpur village in Muzaffarpur district by giving shelter to 10 members of minority community in her house and saving their lives.
Four persons were charred to death in the hooliganism triggered by the recovery of the body of a youth after his kidnapping 10 days ago.
Moved by her bravery, Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi had dubbed her as "Rani Lakhshmi Bai of our times" and gave her a cheque of Rs 51,000 to respect her "selfless act".
Bihar Congress President told PTI that they invited Shail Devi to hoist flag on 66th Republic Day function in recognition of her brave deed and for carrying forward the Congress ideology.
"At the present times, when leaders of a party are out to vitiate communal harmony through their poisonous assertions, a frail widow did not bother for her life and saved 10 members of another community, the act is an astounding example of carrying forward the ideology of Congress party," Choudhary said.
Shail devi, whose daily wage earner husband died around five years ago and is living with her two minor daughters,said she felt honoured to hoist the tricolour at Sadaquat Ashram.
Asked about her courage on the January 18 when she sat in front of her hamlet locking 10 Muslims inside and bravely sending marauders away, she said, "I followed the religion of humanity. How can I see my neighbours with whom I have been living for long die in front of my eyes."
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi in his citation to Shail Devi praised her for the display of bravery at a time when parties in power were "encouraging communal tension in society".
"You stood like light and expectation during communal violence in your village (Azizpur on January 18) despite the fact that the country at present has a government of parties encouraging communal tension in the society and saved lives of 10 persons from religious zealots which is praiseworthy," Gandhi said in his citation.
"...Practice of people like you has kept the country one till now. Congress always stand by such brave," he said, the citation, a copy of which is made available to the media, said.
Bihar Congress President Ashok Choudhary handed over the citation from Gandhi to Shail Devi here at a function on 66th Republic Day celebration. The Congress leader said he hoped people would "take lesson from your courage".