A few days ago, a 15-year-old girl emerged a hero on the Internet after she valiantly fought off mobile snatchers in Punjab’s Jalandhar. The girl suffered injuries on her wrist as the men attacked her with a sharp weapon, but did not give up on her mobile phone. The whole incident was recorded on a camera and police too swung into action and nabbed one of the two accused within a day of the attack.
The girl, identified as Kusum Kumari, was lauded for putting up a tough fight. But the there was much more than bravery that gave strength to the young girl. Kumari, daughter of a daily wager, told reporters that the smartphone which the snatchers tried to take away from her was bought with great difficulty given her father’s income and she needed it for her online classes.
“The smartphone didn’t come easy. My father toiled hard to purchase it after schools were shut and classes went online due to the pandemic. It’s priceless,” she was quoted as saying by The Tribune.
As coronavirus pandemic has kept schools and educational institutes shut, classes are now being held remotely online.
However, this has exposed the deep digital divide with many students not having access to smartphones or Internet. Poor farmers had to sell land and cattle to get funds to buy smartphones for their children. A UNICEF report estimates that at least 463 million children are unable to access remote learning after their schools were shut due to the coronavirus pandemic across the globe.
Even when children have the technology and tools at home, they may not be able to learn remotely through those platforms due to competing factors in the home, including pressure to do chores, being forced to work, a poor environment for learning and lack of support in using the online or broadcast curriculum, the report said.
Kumari was admitted to a private hospital after she was attacked by the snatchers on September 1.
The police had apprehended one of the two accused, 22-year-old Avinash Kumar and was sent on police remand for three days. Avinash is the main accused who tried to snatch phone from the girl and attacked her with a weapon injuring her wrist. He has been charged under Sections 307 (attempt to murder) and 379 B of the IPC. The other accused has been identified as Vinod Kumar and is still at large.
The CCTV footage shows Kumari resisting the attack and grabbing the accused’s hand as well and chasing him. After a brief chase, she managed to grab him by his T-shirt and dragged him off the bike. Her act of bravery was lauded widely, with the Commissioner of Police Gurpreet Singh Bhullar announcing to send her name for national and state level bravery awards. DC Ghanshyam Thori also announced a cash award of Rs51,000 in recognition of her bravery.