Surat, July 11, 2017: Call it Salim Sheikh Gafoor’s sheer presence of mind or quick thinking, but it saved for sure over 50 Amarnath Yatra pilgrims from certain death during a terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir, though he himself attributes his heroism to the Almighty.
“The moments I heard the gunshots, I bent down a bit while holding the steering wheel and pressed the accelerator. It seems God gave me a lot of physical and mental strength and I began driving at around 70-80 km per hour,” Sheikh told media persons here on Tuesday while recalling his brush with death along with 50-odd passengers.
“Harshbhai, who was sitting next to me in the bus, was hit by a bullet. The passengers were screaming and asking me to stop the bus. But I didn’t, as had I applied the brakes even for a minute, I knew for sure that nobody in the bus, including me, would survive the attack,” said the Muslim driver, who has been hailed for saving the 50-odd Amarnath pilgrims.
Expressing sadness over the death of seven pilgrims and injuries to 19 others in the attack on Monday night in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir, he recalled that each one of the 60-odd pilgrims in the bus was happy after a ‘darshan’ of Lord Shiva and their visit to Srinagar.
“Unfortunately, it all turned into a tragedy,” Sheikh said.
He said he kept on driving for 2-3 km before halting at the nearest military camp. Thereafter, the Army men took over and helped move the victims inside the camp and rushing the injured to nearby hospitals.
It was only after 9.30 p.m., more than an hour after the attack, that Salim called up his own family.
His cousin Javed Mirza told a local Gujarati television channel: “I am proud of him. Though it is sad he could not save seven pilgrims, but he was able to save more than 50 others.”
As for getting separated from the security convoy before the attack, Sheikh said: “We started from Srinagar around 4 p.m. in the evening but had to take a two-hour stopover as a bus tyre got punctured. We had otherwise decided to halt at a camp for pilgrims near the military camp.”
“Since we got delayed while getting the flat tyre mended, three-four other buses from Uttar Pradesh which were with us drove away with the security while we were left behind,” he said.
Sheikh, who spoke to several television channels on arrival in Surat by a special Indian Air Force aircraft along with bodies of the attack victims and survivors, said he could not see how many terrorists attacked the bus since it was already dark.
Condemning the attack, he said he would be happy if the terrorists involved were killed.
“They must be killed. The security forces personnel told us they will kill the terrorists. We are now waiting for the good news. I will be able to experience peace, sleep well and eat only on receiving the good news (of the killing of terrorists),” he said.
He said it was not the first time but his fifth trip to the holy cave of Amarnath, driving pilgrims on behalf of Om Travels of Valsad in south Gujarat.
The tour began on July 2 and the pilgrims were scheduled to travel to Amarnath and the shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi in Trikuta hills of Jammu and Kashmir, before returning to Valsad.
He said he had ferried the passengers for ‘darshan’ at the Amarnath cave on July 8 and was driving towards Katra on the fateful evening.
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, who reached Surat airport to receive the bodies of the victims in the afternoon, was all praise for Sheikh and said his government would recommend his name for a bavery award to the Centre.
“I don’t know about that (bravery award) but driving is the only thing I know and only source of income for me. What else can I do? I will continue driving the bus. But for now, the scene (of the attack) keeps playing in front of my eyes,” he said. (IANS)
A suicide bomber terrorized Balochistan in a terror attack that claimed 13 lives
The attack took place near IG of Police Ehsan Mehboob’s office in Quetta
The spokesperson of the provincial government has falsely blamed India for the attack
Balochistan, June 23, 2017: A suicide bomber blew up his explosives near IG of Police Ehsan Mehboob’s office on Gulistan Road, Quetta on Friday, June 23. The attack has claimed 13 lives out of which 6 were policemen.
The police spokesperson stated that the blasts were powerful enough to be heard around the city and break nearby buildings’ glasses. An estimated 75 kilograms of explosives were strapped on the car.
The provincial government’s spokesperson, Anwarul Haq Kakar, blamed India for the blasts. However, ISIS’ local affiliate and Tehrik-e-Taliban’s splinter group Jamaat-ut-Ahrar have claimed responsibility dismissing the false accusations made by Kakar.
PM Nawaz Sharif has condemned the attacks and stated that those behind this terrorism will be punished.
Balochistan remains a contentious region between the separatists and the nationalists, in addition to being plagued by militant violence through numerous extremist groups. The presence of ISIS-affiliated groups is also an issue.
The growing insurgency problem created by extreme nationalists has claimed many civilians’ lives in the past. The 2017 Hindus Human Rights Report published by HAF has highlighted this increasing violence and its impact on minority groups.
– by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394
Mumbai, Nov 26, 2016: On the eighth anniversary of the 26/11 terror attack that shook the city, Bollywood personalities like Amitabh Bachchan, Anupam Kher and Shabana Azmi saluted the braveheart martyrs and victims on social media.
The attack by 10 Pakistani gunmen with the terrorists taking hostages in hotels and opening fire on roads of the city of dreams shook the nation. The attacks left 166 people, including 28 foreigners, dead and the nightmare ended after a 60-hour-long operation that began on the night of November 26, 2008.
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Here’s what the stars posted on Twitter-
Amitabh Bachchan: In remembrance of those that sacrificed in death, so we could live!
Anupam Kher: While we remember these 26/11 images, please send a warm hug to the families who have lost their dear ones on this day forever. Mumbai Attacks.
Azmi Shabana: We will not forget 26/11 and the selflessness of those who sacrificed their lives beyond the call of duty.
Shekhar Ravjiani: Thoughts and prayers with the families of victims and martyrs of #26/11. I salute the brave souls who led us to safety that fateful night.
Sajid Khan: Salute to the bravehearts who fought gallantly to protect us… prayers for all the victims and their families. Mumbai attacks, jai hind.
Ehsaan Noorani: One of the darkest days in the history of Mumbai and India… prayers for the families and souls of those who passed on in the Mumbai attacks.