NEW DELHI: For eight-year-old Shivampet Ruchitha, who will be given prestigious Geeta Chopra award for saving two lives when a train hit her school bus, not being able to rescue her sister in the mishap is the biggest regret.
Ruchitha, who hails from Telangana, is the youngest of the 25 bravehearts who will receive the National Bravery Awards from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 24 for their extraordinary courageous feats.
The incident took place on July 24, 2014 at Masaipet in the district resulting in the death of 16 students, in addition to the driver and conductor. "The driver stopped the bus on a railway track at a crossing. On noticing the approaching train, I alerted him but the vehicle did not start. As the train sped towards us, I pushed two of my friends out of the window.
"I called out to my younger sister who was sitting in the first row but I could not save her and others as the train had hit the bus by then," she told PTI.
Ruchitha's younger brother, who was also on the bus had suffered injuries in the accident. "I jumped off the bus onto the road. When the ambulance arrived, I gave my father's contact number to the medical staff. My brother and other children were in a critical condition then.
"It feels good to have the limelight and get an award from the Prime Minister. But I wish I was able to save my sister, too, as we all miss her," she added. The little girl, a student of standard IV, wants to be a lawyer. She will receive Rs 40,000 cash, a medal and a citation and also participate in the Republic Day parade.
Two more girls will be given the award this year: Angelica Tynsong (13) of Meghalaya for saving her sibling when her house was gutted in fire and Chhatisgarh's Joena Chakraborty (10) for taking on a miscreant who was snatching her father's cell phone.
The National Bravery Award Scheme was initiated by the Indian Council for Child Welfare to give due recognition to the children who distinguish themselves by performing outstanding deeds of bravery and meritorious service.
Since the inception of the scheme, the ICCW has awarded 920 children -- 656 boys and 264 girls.