The number of lives lost could have been much more, if it wasn’t for the driver of the bus which was fired upon.

Salim the bus driver who saved 50 lives in Amarnath terror attack nominated for bravery awardSalim/PTI photo
news Bravery Wednesday, July 12, 2017 - 16:04

The recent terror attack on Amarnath Yatra pilgrims created shock waves throughout the country. Seven people lost their lives and at least 20 were injured in this attack, which took place in Jammu & Kashmir’s Anantnag district as terrorists began firing on a bus carrying pilgrims from Gujarat.

The number of lives lost, however, could have been much more, if it wasn’t for the driver of the bus which was fired upon.

Salim Sheikh, the driver of the bus, drove on despite the ongoing firing for two kilometres, saving many lives. Not only has the J&K government announced a reward worth Rs 3 lakh for him, but he will also be nominated for the bravery award by the Gujarat government.

“God gave me strength to keep moving, and I just did not stop,” Salim reportedly told the media. The first bullet reportedly flew over Salim’s head and hit a passenger. “The tyre burst, but I had no second thoughts in speeding away,” he added.

Salim drove for two kilometres in the dark, on the mountainous road, and did not stop until he reached an army camp. Salim said that he could not see much, but he slid down his seat and kept driving.

Appreciating Salim’s courage, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said that Salim would be nominated for the annual bravery award.

Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani and his deputy Nitin Patel interact with Salim on Tuesday. PTI photo

Back home, Salim’s family, residents of Valsad, are proud of his bravery but also in disbelief over the attack.

Salim’s cousin Javed received a call from Salim around 9.30pm on Monday night, when the latter informed him that there was firing. Javed told the media that while Salim could not save seven passengers, they were proud of him for driving the others to safety.

Salim’s wife Sanjeeda said that the family was relieved only after Salim called them back at 11pm. His mother Raziya, said that while she was proud of her son, she was pained for the people who lost their lives.

Salim has two sisters and four brothers, two of whom are also bus drivers. One of his brothers has been going to Amarnath for the past 15 years and this was Salim’s fourth trip to Amarnath.

Questions have also been raised in the aftermath of the attack, about the bus’s registration for Amarnath Yatra. However, the Jammu and Kashmir police clarified that the bus was registered for Amarnath Yatra, even though they were on a different route than the usual one taken for the yatra.

“They had finished their darshan just two days ago and had plans of visiting a few tourist places,” Munir Khan, Kashmir IG, said.