Sheikh Salim Gafur, abus driver from Gujarat, has been awarded the second highest civilian honour for gallantry for steering the vehicle through a hail of bullets fired by terrorists to save lives of on-board 52 Amarnath pilgrims.
The President has approved conferment of ‘Uttam Jeevan Raksha Padak’ to Gafur, the Union home ministry announced on Wednesday while releasing a list of 44 awardees. Like others, the driver will be decorated by the state government for showing “meritorious act of humane nature” to save lives of persons. On July 10 last year, a bus carrying 60 pilgrims was returning from Amarnath Yatra when it was waylaid by armed terrorists, as per the citation that fetched Gafur the award. As the bus reached Batengoo in Anantnag at 8.30 pm, it suddenly came under fire from militants that left eight passengers dead.
“Gafur, keeping his nerves, kept driving the vehicle amidst continuous firing by the militants. He courageously took the vehicle far away from thespot near a security post and thus saved the lives of remaining 52 passengers,” the ministry said.