Heroic acts in time that saved lives

The annual national Civilian Bravery Awards 2010 will be held on June 3
By Dhananjani Silva

A police constable on his return home after duty one afternoon, hears a commotion near the Denipitiya Polathumodera bridge in Weligama. Hundreds of people gathered near the bridge look on while a young girl is on the verge of drowning in the river. No one goes to her rescue.

“The water was about 40 feet deep and nobody came forward as there were crocodiles in the river. When I heard someone shouting that her life could be saved, I immediately jumped in and managed to get hold of her hair. By the time I got her to the river bank, she was unconscious. We gave her first aid and rushed her to the hospital in a trishaw. After a while she regained consciousness. She kept asking for her child,” recalled H.M. Anura, the brave police constable who saved the young woman’s life.
The 28-year-old was a young mother with an eight month old child. She had been constantly beaten by her husband and had decided to take her life as she had no one to turn to.

Anura is among those nominated for the 17th Annual National Civilian Bravery Awards 2010 to be held on June 3 at the BMICH. Anura had been working at the Weligama Police Station as a Police Constable when the incident occurred about eight months ago.

A former STF officer, he is disabled in his right leg following gunshot injuries he sustained while serving in Batticaloa in 1996. This 38-year-old who is a father of two sons says he is happy to have been nominated. Saving the young woman’s life was uppermost in his mind when he saw she was about to drown, he says, and he didn’t think of the risk to his own life. “I got caught to the tsunami, but somehow managed to get hold of a coconut tree. While I was clinging on to the tree, I saw two others being swept away by the waves and was able to save them too,” adds a proud Anura.

Anura is one of the five nominees for a national award for heroic acts. Of the 28 applications for the award, the Foundation for Civilian Bravery has recognized three instances of persons rescued from drowning, one instance where a mother and a child were saved from being attacked by a cow, and a case involving a person being rescued from being hit by a train, for the five national awards.

Adman Somasiri, 65, from Ambepussa saved a 70-year-old from getting hit by a train at the Botale Pahalagama railway station on October 20, last year. The incident occured when he was waiting at the station to board the 10.50 a.m. train to Mirigama.

“I noticed Albin, a Justice of the Peace (JP) from the neighbouring village walking towards the railway station from a gravel road. He was walking along the railway line and the train was approaching from behind. I shouted and waved at him to indicate that the train was coming but he didn’t seem to hear.
He was about ¼ km away from the train, when I ran to him and grabbed him by the hand. Both of us fell to the ground. Later he thanked me for saving his life. He had a hearing problem and couldn’t hear the sound of the train,” says Somasiri.

The heroes will receive the Gold Medal for Civilian Bravery, Silver Award and certificates of merit. An international award and media award will also be presented at the ceremony. The ceremony is organized by the Foundation for Civilian Bravery.

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