A spark from the air-conditioner turned into a raging fire within minutes. While this would send even adults into panic mode, Veerangana Jhala – who was just six years old then – did not lose her cool. She alerted her parents, then swiftly rushed to the other houses in the Bodakdev apartment and saved the lives of over 60 people by getting them to evacuate the building in time. For her exceptional maturity and fearlessness, Veerangana will be honoured with the National Bravery Award in Delhi on Republic Day.
The fire broke out around 10.15pm on August 7, 2022. Veerangana, a Class 1 student, had pressed the remote to turn on the air-conditioner at her house in Parkview Apartments near Rajpath Club when a spark ignited in the unit and swelled up into a fire.
The incident happened just three days before Veerangana, a student of Adani International School in Shantigram, turned seven.
Her tale of bravery reached the Indian Council for Child Welfare which recommends children for the bravery awards. It approached Veerangana’s parents before finalizing her name for the honour.
Interestingly, Veerangana is not the first in her family to receive a national award. Her grandfather Krishnakumarsinh Jhala, an NCC cadet then, had received the award for ‘All-India Best Cadet Junior Division’ from the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on Republic Day in 1969.
The National Bravery Awards are given annually to 25 Indian children below 18 years for “meritorious acts of bravery against all odds”. The awards are given by the Government of India and the Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW). The award was instituted in 1957 by the ICCW to give due recognition to children who distinguish themselves by performing outstanding deeds of bravery and meritorious service and to inspire other children to emulate their examples.