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Tourist guide dies while saving 5 from drowning

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Guv salutes brave-heart, announces Rs 5 lakh financial assistance

Srinagar: 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 sudden gusty winds.

The five people, three locals and a couple from West Bengal, were onboard the raft when the tragedy struck it 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, he 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 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 B V R 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.

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."

Pradesh Congress chief G A 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 Gani 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,” Lone said.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Vice President Abdul Rahman Veeri on Saturday hailed the courage and sacrifice of Rouf Ahmad Dar terming him an emblem of Kashmir’s hospitality and helpfulness.

In a statement issued here, Veeri expressed grief and sorrow over Dar’s sad demise. However, he said  that the entire state is proud of him and his valour. “He will continue to live in peoples’ hearts and minds and he has shown to the world the hospitality Kashmir is known for centuries,” Veeri said.

Meanwhile, Governor Satya Pal Malik has saluted the bravery of tourist guide Rouf Ahmad Dar, who yesterday lost his life while rescuing tourists from the Lidder river in Pahalgam.

He described Rouf as a “real life hero” who sacrificed his life for saving lives of others.

Governor also prayed for eternal peace to the departed soul and strength to the bereaved family in its hour of grief.

Honouring the exemplary display of selfless action, Governor has announced financial assistance of Rs 5 lakh for the family of Rouf.

Advisor to Governor, Khurshid Ahmad Ganai also announced that the tourist guide will be awarded posthumously.

Ganai, who heads the Tourism department, said he has also announced monetary help for the family of the deceased.

Hailing the valour and self-sacrifice of Rouf Ahmad Dar, Ganai said the sacrifice of Rouf Ahmad Dar was yet another example of how much the people of Kashmir care for their tourists.

“Without caring for his own life, Rouf braved strong currents of river Lidder to save five tourists from drowning. It was the ultimate sacrifice one can offer,” he said in a statement.

The Advisor also issued directions to CEO Pahalgam Tourism Development Authority to remain careful and track weather and take all other precautionary measures for ensuring safety and security of tourists, especially during trekking, mountaineering and rafting expeditions.

Ganai also said that the deceased will be suitably awarded posthumously and monetary help will be provided to the family.

The Advisor conveyed his heart-felt sympathies to the bereaved family and prayed for Jannat-ul-Firdous to the departed soul.

KCCI seeks govt job to widow of brave tourist guide

Srinagar, Jun 01: A traders’ body in Kashmir on Saturday urged the government to provide a “permanent” government job to the widow of the brave tourist guide who drowned while saving five people in Pahalgam last evening.

“…while the administration’s prompt response in recommending bravery award and financial support was highly appreciable, the KCC&I would urge for providing the widow of late Rouf Ahmad Dar with a permanent government job,” said a KCCI spokesman.

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