Brave Teen Offers Herself as Hostage to Save Younger Friends

Villagers demand national bravery award

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Parathajit Dutta / AFP / Getty Images

An Indian paramilitary soldier watches over traffic on the Assam-Agartala national highway 44, in the Atharamura Hills, some 65 km east of Agartala, 11 August 2007.

In an act of extraordinary bravery, a 14-year-old girl in the Indian state of Assam offered to be taken hostage in order to save ten other children from a gunman who had hijacked their school van.

Fleeing a drunken quarrel, the hijacker had entered the vehicle on Wednesday afternoon and forced the driver to set a new course, firing rounds against his pursuers, The Hindu reports.

As the driver intentionally steered the van into a ditch, the gunman grabbed a terrified second grade student, causing the six years older Gunjan Sharma to step in.

“I pleaded with him to take me instead,” she told local media after the incident. “He took me into the jungle and made me run, never leaving my hand.”

Hiding behind a bush, they heard people calling Gunjan’s name. “The man put the barrel in my mouth and whispered, ‘Don’t shout or I’ll kill you,’” she recalled.

But when Gunjan woke in the morning, she was alone, and managed to find a tea estate from where the police was called.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has announced a $3,200 reward will be given to Gunjan, and local residents have requested that the state government recommend her for a national bravery award.

The young gunman, still at large, is not believed to be a part of any militant group in the area.

[The Hindu, Indian Express]