The saying ‘Once a Hero, Always a Hero’, perfectly fits the Amarnath terror attack bus driver Salim Gafur Shaikh, who contributed Rs 11,000, almost equal to his one month salary, to Army Welfare Fund.
Shaikh was recently awarded ‘Uttam Jeevan Raksha Padak’, the second highest honour given to civilians for gallantry, on Republic Day for saving lives of 52 Amarnath pilgrims in July 2017.
“They saved us, got us treated and also ensured that we reach home safely. Because of Indian Army I and other 52 passengers of that bus are living happily with our families. I am proud of Indian Army and it is the strongest in the world,” Shaikh told TOI.
“I recently saw on news that four Army jawan have been martyred then I thought to do something. I donated whatever I had in my bank account,” he added. “Family of Army men give the real heroes to our country.”
Salim saved the lives of 52 people by showing exemplary alacrity and presence of mind when terrorists attacked his bus carrying Amarnath pilgrims. He drove the bus at full speed in the dark, manoeuvring the vehicle with a flat tyre in dangerous mountainous terrain for more than 2km as bullets kept whizzing by. The bus carrying Amarnath pilgrims from Valsad of Gujarat and bordering areas of Maharashtra was attacked by terrorists near Batengoo in Anantnag of Jammu and Kashmir and eight persons were killed.