A major Gujarati language newspaper has claimed that it was Harsh Desai and not Ghafoor Salim Sheikh who kept driving the Amarnath pilgrim bus even after it was attacked by terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir which helped save many lives.
According to the newspaper, it was Harsh who saved lives of Amarnath pilgrims with his courage and presence of mind.
It further said Harsh got injured in his bid to save lives of passengers and was hospitalized after being shot by terrorist. The same report has gone viral on social media.
“It was Harsh Desai, son of the bus owner, who was driving when 25 terrorists surrounded the bus and one of them tried to enter the vehicle. But the bus conductor pushed him out,” the report said.
“Harsh kept driving for five kilometers even after being shot. He has saved 45 lives,” it added.
According to the passengers, it was Salim who was behind the steering wheel. When terrorists fired at him he ducked sideways and bullet hit Harsh, who was sitting on the left side. Those who were injured in the attack said the same.
They said Salim did not lose nerve when militants opened fire at the bus. Officials and agencies have also confirmed what passengers said.
Even Harsh said that he asked Salim to keep driving and not to stop the bus until he sees security forces.
“Salim drove for nearly two kilometers from the place of attack until he reached a small camp of security forces,” Harsh said.
“I ducked and continued driving the bus so that I could take the bus away to some safe place,” Salim told reporters while narrating the incident in which seven pilgrims were killed and 19 injured in a terror attack in Khanabal area on the Srinagar-Jammu highway.
Salim’s wife said her husband had been carrying pilgrims to Amarnath for over four years while his elder brother had been doing the same for nearly 11 years.
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Tuesday said the brave driver has saved many precious lives and that the state government had decided to nominate him for a bravery award.
“We want to thank the bus driver who saved many lives amid heavy firing. The Gujarat government will nominate Salim for bravery award with the central government,” Rupana said at the Surat airport while receiving the bodies of the slain pilgrims.
The Jammu and Kasmir cabinet has decided to give Salim an amount of Rs 3 lakh for his act of bravery