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Jan 19, 2010 at 09:13am IST

21 children to get National Bravery awards

New Delhi: The Indian Council for Child Welfare announced the winners of the National Bravery awards on Monday with eight of the 21 winners being girls who acted beyond their years to save precious lives.

It seems that 2009 was a year of Indian femme fatales. Jammu's Ruksana Kosser, gunned down a terrorist to save her family and earned herself not just the reputation of a braveheart but also a place in Jammu and Kashmir Police. The 20-year old's courage was mirrored in many other young girls across the country.

A total of eight girls and 13 boys will be receiving the National Bravery awards on the January 26.

The youngest among them, six-year-old Thoi Thoi Khumnathen from Manipur dived into a pond to save a drowning four-year-old.

Thoi Thoi wants to grow up to be a doctor but she'll need more than this award to help her fulfil that dream

"She wants to become a doctor. I hope the government will help us with her education," says Thoi Thoi's father Khumanthem Tomban.

Ten-year-old Prity Devi used her bare hands to dispose a live grenade that was hurled at her mother's shop in Imphal. She hopes to fight terror by joining the police force but a splinter from the explosion still lodged in her leg could curb her bold steps.

"We are not very rich. The award money will not be enough for the surgery. We wrote to the government for help but got no response," claims Prity's father.

Afsana Khatun, Sunita Mahato and Rekha Kalindi escaped becoming child brides by approaching the labour commissioner against their parents, after they were forced to drop out of school to get married. The 11-year olds from Purulia in West Bengal have since then convinced 35 families in the village to delay their minor daughters' marriages.

"We see to it that no girls under 18 and boys under 21 get married. If the parents do not listen, we go to the thana," says Afsana Khatun

These young bravehearts acted ahead of their years, but they'll need much more support to achieve their dreams.

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