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Sheikh Salim Gafur, driver who saved Amarnath pilgrims, gets second highest award

Salim Sheiekh, the bus driver of the ill-fated Amarnath bus who saved the lives of yatra pilgrims during a militant attack. FIle photo.

Salim Sheiekh, the bus driver of the ill-fated Amarnath bus who saved the lives of yatra pilgrims during a militant attack. FIle photo.  

The Gujarati bus driver who saved 52 Amarnath pilgrims from terror attack has been awarded the “Uttam Jeevan Raksha Padak.”

A bus driver from Gujarat who drove through a hail of bullets and saved the lives of more than 50 Amarnath Yatra pilgrims last year has been selected for the Uttam Jeevan Raksha Padak, the second highest honour given to civilians for gallantry after the Sarvottam Jeevan Raksha Padak.

The Home Ministry announced this on Wednesday ahead of Republic Day.

Sheikh Salim Gafur displayed rare grit and bravery and continued to drive the bus which came under attack on July 10, 2017 in Jammu and Kashmir, an official said.

Daring escape

Seven pilgrims were killed and 14 injured when terrorists opened fire on the bus near Batengoo in Anantnag district, while 52 passengers escaped unharmed as Mr. Gafur showed presence of mind.

The State government will also honour him with a ₹1 lakh cash prize at a function to be held later.

The Jammu and Kashmir police got 38 of the 107 gallantry medals, followed by the CRPF (35) and the police forces of Chhattisgarh (10), Maharashtra (7) and Telangana (6). Five IPS officers are on the medal list.

The highest number of gallantry awards were won by security personnel involved in counter-terror operations in Jammu and Kashmir.

A total of 35 personnel serving in Naxal-affected areas and three in the Northeast too have won them.

Seven police officials have been awarded the medal posthumously.

Among them six were from Chattishgarh who laid down their lives in anti-Naxal operations at Chintagufa in Sukma district.

Nand Kishore Prasad, assistant sub-inspector, CRPF, has been selected for the police gallantry medal for showing exemplary courage in an operation against terrorists who attacked a bus carrying BSF personnel on June 3, 2016.

Of the 785 police medals announced, 616 are for distinguished service.

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Printable version | Apr 3, 2020 12:11:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sheikh-salim-gafur-driver-who-saved-amarnath-pilgrims-gets-second-highest-award/article22510789.ece

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