| Sivasagar district transport officer Ujjal Sarma hands over Rs 30,000 to Gunjan Sharma on behalf of transport minister Chandan Brahma, at Gunjan's residence on Friday. Telegraph picture |
7am: Interview with a local newspaper
7.30am: Appointment with a delegation sent by transport minister
8am: Felicitation by a few NGOs
8.30am: Visit to temple
Noon: Interview with two national news channels
1pm: Felicitation programmes at Nazira town
7.30pm: Meeting with forest minister Rakibul Hussain
Jorhat, Dec. 6: The above could very well be a page from the appointment diary of a visiting dignitary. But it is the day’s schedule of a 14-year-old, no less famous or busy a day after she returned safely from an abduction ordeal.
With people thronging the residence of Gunjan Sharma, a Class VIII student of Kendriya Vidyalaya, Nazira, in Sivasagar district, since yesterday to congratulate her for her exemplary courage, the house of this fun-loving girl has suddenly turned into the most happening place in Upper Assam. This correspondent had to call at least 20 times since early this morning to fix an appointment with her.
“With countless organisations and institutions wanting to felicitate her, I have now become her de facto secretary,” quipped Dipak Sharma, Gunjan’s uncle. “As of today, she is not free for the next month,” he told The Telegraph over phone from Nazira.
Sharma said at least 20 schools, including a few from Guwahati, had invited Gunjan to speak to their students.
Gunjan and 10 other students had been taken hostage by an unidentified gunman from nearby Simaluguri town on Wednesday while returning from school in a van. Gunjan later offered to be the hostage to save the others as she was the “oldest”.
She returned home yesterday morning after her abductor abandoned her in a jungle along the Assam-Nagaland border late at night. The kidnapper, who was armed with a pistol, told her to wait where she was till he returned. “He never came back and I walked back to safety,” she said.
Gunjan, however, harbours no hatred for the man. “I don’t know why but I was not afraid of him. Fear struck me only when I returned home yesterday morning, when I realised that he could have killed me.”
Showing signs of Stockholm syndrome, Gunjan pleaded for leniency towards her abductor. She said if caught, he should be released with the promise that he would not repeat the mistake.
“I could make out he was not bad at heart. He told me that he had children like me and would not cause me any harm. He was probably desperate for some reason to have tried to kidnap me and my schoolmates,” she said.
Her goodness and courage have been rewarded since, with Assam paying high accolades to its brave daughter.
Chief minister Tarun Gogoi declared a reward of Rs 2 lakh for her while education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has announced that she would be nominated for this year’s bravery awards.
Gogoi this evening announced instituting a bravery award in the name of Gunjan Sharma from next year. Though the nitty gritties of the award will be finalised later, it will carry Rs 2 lakh in cash and a citation.