In a gruesome terror attack, seven Amarnath pilgrims returning from the Holy Cave were killed and more than a dozen were injured on Monday evening. Militants attacked a bus carrying at least 56 passengers at Botengo village near south Kashmir's Anantnag district.
While the tragedy has left the country devastated, it has come to the fore that the number of casualties could have been higher if the driver of the bus hadn't shown presence of mind.
According to ANI, the driver of the bus, Salim, did not stop when militants fired on the bus and looked for safer spot to escape the firing. While Salim was injured himself, his family members in Gujarat told reporters that he had called them after the incident and narrated the incident to them.
He called me up around 9:30 pm informing about firing on the vehicle: Javed Mirza, Cousin of Saleem (driving the bus attacked by terrorists) pic.twitter.com/FV9I8Njy9M— ANI (@ANI_news) July 11, 2017
Salim's account was also corroborated by a 55-year-old passenger of the fateful bus.
"We left Srinagar at 5pm; two hours into the journey our bus got a puncture some 2km ahead of Anantnag. Just when the bus was ready to leave, the windscreen was shattered by a spray of bullets. Our driver Saleem bravely drove ahead even as terrorists continued to pump bullets into the bus till we reached the military camp.The Army rescued us, but... seven of 60 passengers lost their lives. It is a miracle the rest of us are alive," Yogesh Prajapati, a resident of Gujarat narrated to Times of India.
The TOI report also said the bus had not been registered with the Amarnath board and was travelling beyond the specified timing for Yatra vehicles.
Meanwhile, J&K Police has said the attack was carried out by a Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba. The police also named a Pakistani militant Abu Ismail, as a mastermind of the attack.