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State to nominate Gunjan for award

Jorhat, Dec. 14: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi today said the state government would nominate Gunjan Sharma, a Class VIII student in Simaluguri, for the national bravery award next year.

Gogoi also said the government would felicitate Gunjan at a function in Guwahati on January 1, the twin announcements coming a day after AGP’s Birendra Baishya spoke of her brave feat in the Rajya Sabha.

The announcement comes close on the heels of Gogoi announcing Dispur’s decision to institute a bravery award in Gunjan’s name from next year. The award will carry a cash prize of Rs 2 lakh and a citation. Gunjan and 10 other schoolchildren were abducted by a gunman from the van in which they were returning from school, at Nazira in Sivasagar district on December 4. The 14-year-old had offered herself as ahostage and thereby saved the lives of the other children, who were all younger to her.

Gunjan’s family today thanked MP Baishya for highlighting her brave act in Parliament. Yesterday, the family also received a call from Jorhat’s Congress MP B.K. Handique, saying they were trying for the Unicef’s bravery award, which was “80 per cent through.” Baishya made himself heard above the din in the Rajya Sabha and appealed to the House to congratulate Gunjan, following which deputy speaker P.J. Kurien said the whole House was with him and the brave girl.

Shankar Sharma, Gunjan’s father, said his daughter’s act was not only a matter of pride for the family but also for Assam. “She is now not only our daughter but the daughter of Assam,” he said.

Deepak Sharma, Gunjan’s uncle told The Telegraph over phone from Simaluguri that they were grateful to Baishya for making her courageous act known to the rest of the country.

“I am happy to have saved the lives of others. That is all that matters to me. I am happy to be receiving so much love and affection from everybody,” Gunjan said.

Three persons, including the abductor, Biman Bora, have been arrested in connection with the kidnapping.

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