Srinagar: A Kashmiri driver who saved over a dozen paramilitary personnel from a militant attack and was rendered disabled is awaiting compensation from the past three years.
Muhammad Rafiq Khushoo, a resident of Parimpora Srinagar, who drives a 407 minibus, emerged in Press Enclave on Tuesday and narrated the incident that occurred on April 3, 2017 near Sempora Pantha Chowk.
“I was ferrying over 20 security personnel for election duty from Jammu to Srinagar in my private 407 Mini Bus (JK01C-1674) when it came under fire from militants near Sempora. Initially I received a bullet in the arm while a CRPF man behind me died instantly when hit by a volley of bullets. A couple of personnel later died due to bullet injuries. I received two more bullets in my leg but kept on driving the vehicle till I navigated it to a safer place and reached police station Pantha Chowk,” Rafiq recounted.
“This incident changed my life and I virtually became disabled. I am not able to walk properly, let alone drive a vehicle,” said Rafiq.”
“I was provided treatment at the army’s 92-base hospital and police hospital, but forgotten once I was discharged. I wandered from pillar to post but didn’t get any help.
Rafiq said a driver from Gujarat state was handsomely rewarded not only by his homestate but by J&K Govt for a similar act.
Muhammad Saleem, a resident of Gujarat, had saved Amarnath yatris by navigating to safety his under-attack vehicle in 2017.
“I felt deeply hurt when the driver from Gujarat was given Rs two crore by J&K and Gujarat governments, Amarnath Shrine Board and the government of India for his bravery, but put impediments in my way for compensation”.
Saleem had driven the bus carrying the Amarnath pilgrims to a nearby army camp after it came under attack at Botingoo in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district on July 10, 2017.
“On the contrary when I was provided a job, the Home Department objected to it on the grounds that I was not competent for it. They said what I have done is a bravery act and for it only medals can be given,” Rafiq said.
“I also drove the vehicle despite being hit by many bullets and my reward was that I have been left on the mercy of God.”
Rafiq said the incumbent Special DG CRPF Zulifkar Hasan provided him monetary assistance but he spent that on medicines.
“To highlight my plight, I approached a number of Indian news channels but unfortunately they ignored me while some of them tried to exploit me. A channel instructed me to say it is difficult for me now to live in Kashmir. They simply wanted to exploit me. I met almost everyone at the helm of affairs but no help came from any side,” he said.
“I have parents and a divorced sister and had taken a bank loan to purchase the vehicle. I want to meet Lieutenant Governor GC Murmu, but he will not be accessible for poor people like me. I fail to understand whom to approach now and how to seek help for myself and my family,” Rafiq said. (KNT)
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