Sunday, December 2, 2012

bravery award winner to daily wage earner

This story appeared in television series Crime Patrol, telecasted in Sony Entertainment Television.

The content has been compiled from various sources given at the end of the post.

It was the start of a seemingly normal working day on May 10, 2004. Two unknown men entered the campus of a local school in Assam's (its a state in the North Eastern part of India) Kamrup district, fired on a teacher at point blank range and fled. Teachers and students of the school chased the miscreants – who were later identified as ULFA (United Liberation From of Assam, a terrorist organization fighting for Assam's sovereignty for 3 decades) members – but the pistols in their hands (and also a potential grenade threat) soon scared them off. However, Ratul Chandra Rabha and Rituparna Boro, then students of Class VIII and X respectively, were not that easily scared. They chased the militants for almost three kilometers and eventually helped nab one of the men who had killed their teacher. The act of courage was acknowledged by the nation and the two had made the headlines by winning the India's National Bravery Awards in 2005.

Today, the youngsters are fighting a grim battle for survival, forgotten by the very government which had turned the two into role-models of people’s fight against terrorism. After being forced to give up their studies due to abject poverty, both are now eking out a living by working as manual workers. “Our financial condition forced us to give up our studies. Now we are daily wage earners,” Ratul said. Ritupurna rued that he could not appear in higher secondary examinations for failing to procure Rs1000 to pay the examination fees. Both youths — now in their 20s — proudly displayed their Bravery Award certificates given to them in 2005 by the then President APJ Abdul Kalam.
All the political heavyweights of the country like then Union ministers Pranab Mukherjee, Arjun Singh and Shivraj Patil had patted them on their backs for their exemplary courage and bravery in the face of grave personal risk. Even chief minister Tarun Gogoi is said to have assured them of jobs. But nothing came their way. After achieving the feat, the two tribal youths have been running from pillar to post for the past many years for a job but to no avail. Both Ritupurna and Ratul still remember the day it all happened and wonder if courage has no value in this country. Strange though may it seem, the fact is that the nationally acclaimed bravehearts now have to toil to feed their poverty-stricken families. “To serve in the Indian Army is our heart’s desire and to make it a reality we are still working hard,” said Rituparna. The two had even made a written plea to prime minister Manmohan Singh to help them.

The duo had been honored by the SOS Children’s Village of India in 2006, Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti, New Delhi, in 2005. Despite being selected for scholarship by the Indian Council for Child Welfare, Ratul has not got any benefits. Also a prominent sports personality, Ratul had clinched the first prize in All Assam Martial Arts Championship in 2008, won the 2nd National Chinese Traditional Martial Arts Championship in 2009. But despite all these feats under his belt, Ratul roams villages to earn a living. Same is the case with Ritupurana who toils in rural areas. For Ritupurna Boro and Ratul Chandra Rabha, the two certificates of National Bravery Award have become a mockery of the system which rewards surrendered militant with either jobs or economic packages but has nothing to offer to those who stand up against militants. And that too bare hand.

With the intervention of print media and Crime Patrol, The Assam wing of ICCW (Indian Council for Child Welfare) admitted lapses on their part and has given assurances that both the dare devils will get all their deserved remuneration. A terribly sad but true story, a tight slap on the rotting administration of the country.

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