Sheikh Saleem Gafoor, the 38-year-old driver from Gujarat who saved the lives of 52 Amarnath Yatra pilgrims in Jammu and Kashmir during a militant attack in 2017, will be given a bravery award on Republic Day, The Hindu reported.
Eight pilgrims were killed and 17 injured during the attack on July 10, 2017.
The Home Ministry announced the Uttam Jeevan Raksha Padak for Gafoor on Wednesday. The Jammu and Kashmir government will also present him a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh at an event later.
“I was not expecting an award,” Gafoor told The Indian Express on Wednesday. “No one from the state government contacted me. I learnt about the award two hours ago through television channels.”
He also spoke about the attack. “The passengers inside the bus were screaming at me to stop the bus, but I did not,” Gafoor said. “I have been going for the Amarnath pilgrimage for past four years and had seen military camps at regular distances. I was looking for a nearby camp. Once I spotted the camp, I drove fast inside.”
The Jammu and Kashmir Police will receive 38 gallantry medals, the Central Reserve Police Force 35, the Chhattisgarh Police 10, the Maharashtra Police seven and the Telangana Police force six. Five Indian Police Service officers will also be given awards on Republic Day. Twenty-seven officers and officials of the Central Bureau of Investigation will get the president’s medal for distinguished and meritorious service.