Srinagar, July 14: A Kashmiri driver who saved over a dozen troopers from militant attack is awaiting compensation from past three years.
Muhammad Rafiq Khushoo, a resident of Parimpora Srinagar, who drives a 407 Mini Bus, says that although he did something similar to the Muslim driver Muhammad Saleem from Gujarat who was rewarded handsomely for navigating to safety his under-attack vehicle carrying Amarnath pilgrims, he was neither rewarded nor provided any job.
Rafiq emerged in Press Enclave Srinagar on Tuesday and narrated the incident that occurred on April 3, 207 near Sempora Pantha Chowk.
“I was ferrying over 20 troopers for Election Duties 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 on spot when hit by a volley of bullets. A couple of troopers later died but all of them sustained bullet injuries and were injured. I received two more bullets in leg but kept on dribbing the vehicle till I navigated it to a safer place and reached police station Pantha Chowk,” Rafiq told news agency KNT.
“This incident changed my life and I virtually become 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. When I was provided a job, the Home Department rejected it on the grounds that I was not fit for it. They said what I have done is a bravery act and for it only medals can be given,” Rafiq said.
He appealed government to provide him compensation. “I have parents and a divorced sister and had taken bank loan to purchase a vehicle. I felt deeply hurt when Saleem, the driver from Gujarat, who was awarded Rs 2 Crore by J&K and Gujarat governments, Amarnath Shrine Board and the government of India for bravery. Saleem had driven the bus carrying the pilgrims to a nearby army camp after it came under attack at Botengoo in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district on July 10, 2017. 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 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 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 told Kashmir News Trust.