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Meet these Amazing Heroes

Every year the nation honours a group of children who have distinguished themselves by their true grit. Raja Sen traveled to Delhi last week to meet with some of them.

Ankit Rai, like any other eight year old, thoroughly revels in the madcap atmosphere of an amusement park on a Sunday afternoon. Right now, dressed in a decidedly edgy brown leather jacket, he complains about not being allowed on the 'big boys' waterslide. Clearly, no fear here -- not that it comes as any sort surprise.

Fun and Food Village, a water-themed park on the outskirts of Delhi, annually plays host to the children slated to receive the Bravery Award on January 24, two days before they clamber atop elephants and wave to cheering crowds at the Republic Day parade.

Ankit, a diehard Sunny Deol fan from Faridabad, takes the stage at the makeshift honours ceremony and rocks it as the deejay throws on the remixes, before hitting the pool, at no point letting his severed left hand affect his moves or his spirit. Kidnapped by one of his father's workers, Rai was thrown onto a railway track after plans went wrong and the ransom wasn't received.

His hand chopped off by an oncoming train, Rai staggered to the nearby colony, asked for help, went to the police station and identified his assailants, leading to the arrest of culprits Lallan and Jackey. He's plucky, yet shy and given more to actions than words -- as his pelvic thrusts adequately depicted. Now, all the upper-KG student wants is to hang with his newfound buddies a while longer before heading home in a few days and turning to his beloved carromboard.

Photographs: Raja Sen

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