A terror attack on Amarnath pilgrims on Monday evening left seven devotees including five women dead while scores were injured in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district.
The attack on pilgrims became a dominating topic of social media conversations. While the Congress vice president, Rahul Gandhi demanded accountability from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Gujarat’s patdidar leader, Hardik Patel suspected a conspiracy in the attacks and sought to link the attack to the upcoming assembly elections in Gujarat.
The passengers travelling in the bus were from Gujarat and Maharashtra.
However, survivors have now revealed that had it not been for the alertness and sheer bravery of the driver, the fatalities could have been significantly higher.
The driver, Sheikh Salim Ghafoor Bhai, could not care much about the terrorists’ firing and continued to drive his bus to a safer place. Impressed by his bravery, the Jammu and Kashmir government has announced a reward of Rs 3 lakh for Samil.
“When I entered the bus, the firing began from both sides. But my driver was so brave that he kept driving the bus for 1.5-2 kms. By that officers arrived and evacuated us,” a lady survivor told NDTV.
Another survivor said that Salim drove the bus to a safer spot by continuing to drive for 3-4 kms.
Javed Mirza, cousin of Salim, said that the terrorism had no religion.
He told ANI, “Terrorism has no religion. Their bullets don’t distinguish between Hindus and Muslims. Now the driver was a Muslim and he porved once again that even Muslims care about this country. Had he stopped his bus, the terrorists were firing indiscriminately.”
“He couldn’t save seven lives but managed to move 50 people to a safe place. I am proud of him,” said Javed.
The bus carrying yatris was on the highway when the incident occurred.
“In the firing by militants, seven people, five of them women, were killed, and another seven injured,” the official added.
The bus had come from Sonamarg. The pilgrims were on their way back after visiting the Amarnath shrine.
The police claimed the bus driver had violated rules for the pilgrimage, which state that no yatra vehicle should be on a highway after 7 pm.
“Reportedly the bus was neither a part of convoy nor registered with shrine board. Troops of 90 Bn & 40 battalion of the CRPF were rushed to the spot,” said a senior CRPF official, according to news agency, PTI.