This is a story that shows faith has nothing to do with the religious fanatical idea. It is a story that beautifully showcases the faith of a ‘Muslim’ driver on a ‘Hindu’ god. It is the story of silver lining amidst the dark clouds.
Driving a 56-seater bus in the shadow in the rocky terrain is scary. But 37 years old Salim Shaikh drove at full roll for more than 2 km, with a flat tyre. The bullets were whooshing by but he managed to save the lives of more than 50 Amarnath pilgrims on Monday. 7 people were killed and 21 injured in the terror attack.
“It was all due to Baba Amarnath’s blessings that I got the strength despite guns blazing around me,” said Shaikh. “The first bullet flew over my head and hit a passenger. The tyre burst, but I had no second thoughts in speeding away.”
The onlookers told that the terrorists continued firing till the bus reached an Army camp. Shaikh said that he concluded it was a terrorist attack the instant a bullet sliced through the glass. “I slid down my seat and kept driving. I would see the road for a second or so and duck,” he said.
Appreciating his bravery, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said Shaikh would be proposed for the yearly bravery honor.
It was Shaikh’s 4th trip of Amarnath in the past 8 years. On Monday, the trip was postponed due to a punctured tyre soon after parting Srinagar. At his house in Garib Nawaz Society in Valsad, his family members could barely accept that his bus was fired upon by the terrorists. “It was only around 11pm when Shaikh called that we breathed easy,” said his wife, Sanjeeda. “He said we must not discuss anything with our elder son Danish as he is undergoing treatment for an ear ailment,” she added, hugging her 4-year-old daughter Amrin and 7-year-old son Ayan.
Shaikh’s mother Raziya is happy with her son’s brave act. “He did well, but we are extremely pained for those who died,” said Raziya, wiping her tears. Pallavi Abhyankar, a 55 years old lady who a fortunate survivor from Maharashtra praised Shaikh and told that if he had not been there, the toll would have been much higher.