Displaying the true traditions of 'Kashmiriyat', a tourist guide sacrificed his own life to save five people, including two visitors from West Bengal, after their raft capsized in Lidder river flowing through the picturesque South Kashmir resort town of Pahalgham. Rouf Ahmed Dar, a registered professional rafter, cared a little about his life and jumped into the river when the raft overturned near Mawoora after it was caught in a sudden gusty winds.
The five people, three locals and a couple from West Bengal, were onboard the raft when the tragedy struck it on Friday evening at the rafting point in Pahalgham, 96 kms south of Srinagar.
Quoting eyewitness, officials said that Dar, who was escorting the couple as a tourist guide, had initially swam to safety. But on seeing the others getting drawn into the water, wasted no time and jumped into the water again and managed to save them, they said.
A search and rescue operation was launched immediately afterwards and teams of State Disaster Response Force were joined by the police and locals. The searches continued until late hours, but were abandoned due to darkness, they said.
The body of the brave tourist guide was retrieved on Saturday morning near Bhawani bridge and was handed over to his relatives after medico-legal formalities, they said.
"It was actual demonstration of Kashmiriyat, which teaches love brotherhood and care, displayed by Dar, who successfully saved five people including two domestic tourists, in the true spirit of trademark Kashmiri hospitality," said Deputy Commissioner (Anantnag) Khalid Jehangir.
On directions of chief secretary BVR Subrahmanyam, an ex gratia of Rs 4 lakh has been sanctioned for the 32-year-old Dar's kin, who is survived by his parents, brother and wife.
The two tourists -- Manish Kumar Saraf and Sweta Saraf hailing from Nandan Nager, Kolkata -- were taken to Srinagar. They said they have got a second life thanks to Dar, a senior police official said.
Deputy Commissioner, Anantnag, has recommended Dar for bravery award, the officials said, adding the chief secretary also hailed his bravery and directed the district administration to support his family.
State tourism in-charge and the advisor to Governor Satya Pal Malik Khursheed Ganai offered his condolences on loss of Dar's life. "Without caring for his own life, Dar braved strong currents of river Lidder to save five people from drowning. It was an ultimate sacrifice one can offer."
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah also expressed condolences. "My salute to this braveheart Rauf Ahmad Dar. He saved the tourists from his capsized raft but lost his own life in the process. May Allah grant him the highest place in Jannat."
My salute to this braveheart Rauf Ahmad Dar. He saved the tourists from his capsized raft but lost his own life in the process. May Allah grant him the highest place in Jannat. https://t.co/VYUd4nTrzz— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) June 1, 2019
Pradesh Congress chief GA Mir described Dar as a symbol of true Kashmiriyat.
BJP State General Secretary (organisation) Ashok Koul expressed grief over Dar's death and offered his deepest condolence to the family. Koul appealed the Governor's administration to provide full support to Dar's family.
Former minister and chairman of People's Conference Sajad Lone also paid tributes to Dar.
"A very sad incident. My tributes to the exemplary courage bravery and dedication of Rouf Ahmed. He sacrificed his own life to save the lives of our guests. He is the real hero who will be an inspiration in selflessness and our tradition of hospitality.