Amarnath pilgrims attack: Driver held nerve to drive through a hail of bullets

Driver Salim Sheikh lauded for bravery; J&K govt. announces award of Rs. 3 lakh for Salim

Updated - July 11, 2017 10:50 pm IST

Published - July 11, 2017 06:36 pm IST - Surat

Salim Sheikh

Salim Sheikh

Salim Sheikh, driver of the ill-fated bus carrying Amarnath pilgrims that was attacked by terrorists on Monday night, exhibited immense courage under fire, as he drove the bus through a hail of bullets. His brave act saved the lives of as many as 50 persons.

“I did not stop despite firing because, had I stopped, we would have all been killed including me! There was no scope to escape the bullets,” Mr Sheikh said after he landed in an Indian Air Force aircraft from Srinagar that brought the injured pilgrims and the bodies of the slain pilgrims to Surat.

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, who was present at the airport to receive bodies, showered praise on Mr. Sheikh and said the State government would nominate his name for a bravery award.


Pitch darkness

“God gave me strength and courage to drive on amidst firing from right side. There were possibly three to four terrorists firing. We could not see anything as it was pitch black,” Mr. Sheikh said, recalling the life-threatening moments.

“As the firing continued, people were shouting, crying and screaming to stop but I just somehow kept driving for one kilometre. I ducked twice by bending over on driving seat but did not stop till I saw a military camp,” he said narrating the sequence of events. He added that when the bus reached the military camp, people immediately helped them and all passengers were taken to a hospital for treatment. 

According to him, the bus had started around 4 p.m. along with three or four other buses but his bus had developed a puncture that took them two hours to repair. 

Mr. Sheikh’s 70-year-old father told media persons in Valsad that it was a moment of pride for the entire family that Salim had saved the lives of so many pilgrims while facing bullets.

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