Teen awardee took 3 bullets to save kin in J&K attack

Teen awardee took 3 bullets to save kin in J&K attack

Winners of National Bravery Award during a full dress rehearsal for Republic Day Parade in New Delhi on Thursday. Mukesh Aggarwal

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 23

Soumyadip Jana has no recollection of the day that changed his life. He doesn’t even know how he landed the coveted National Bravery Award this year.

The 15-year-old may not remember anything about February 10, 2018, the fateful day that tested his courage, but those around him remember every bit of what had happened.

“It was early morning on February 10 when three terrorists laid siege to the Army accommodation complex at Sunjuwan Military Station in Jammu. I was away on duty that day. Soumyadip, my wife and daughter were at home. If my family is alive today, it is because of Soumyadip,” says Haripad Jana of his son, who has been confined to the wheelchair for two years since the attack.

Soumyadip’s mother Madhumita completes the spine-chilling story of her son’s bravery and heroism. “Since ours was the very first quarter in the military accommodation complex, the terrorist struck us first. The moment Soumyadip realised we were under attack, he blocked the wooden door to our bedroom using every piece of furniture available in the house. Pushing us to safety, he guarded the door as terrorists lobbed a grenade in the compound in attempts to break in. Unable to enter and take us hostage, the militants fled but not until they had fired through the wooden door. Soumyadip had foiled a terror plan and taken three bullets,” recalls Madhumita. The family belongs to West Bengal.

Bullet injuries have left the boy, then a Class VIII student of Army Public School, Jammu, paralysed for life and he may not be able to return to normal life ever again.

“But his courage has inspired everyone whose lives he has touched,” says Jana, posted with the Army and settled in Delhi now for advance treatment of his son.

Soumyadip has already undergone four life-saving surgeries since the fatal attack and is currently under treatment at Delhi’s Army Research and Referral Institute. One of the four Bravery Award recipients this year, Soumyadip spoke faintly as he interacted with others in his league and also with Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani, who hailed his courage as a trendsetter. The boy may have lost his hearing capacity and suffered near total loss of vision on account of the terrorist attack but his story, as the citation says, will continue to inspire awe. He held his citation with pride today.

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