18-year-old Mohammad Maqbool’s only aim was to save his family from the cross-LoC shelling in Uri. He and his siblings were staying at a temporary camp set up, while his parents were still in Silikote village situated on the ‘zero-line’ 10 km away.
On February 22 as the shelling started, Mohammad and his siblings were sent away to the camp while the parents stayed back to look after the cattle.
Mohammad would call home every day to check if his parents were doing fine. Every call he made he would plead with them to leave. On the third day, his mother told him there was some respite in the shelling. However, the house next to theirs was hit during the shelling. This angered and frustrated him because he was unable to help his parents.
Most of the families from Mohammad’s village left their houses and were living in the camp, erected in a school building. But many were stuck in the village as the shelling intensified. “I have never seen such a situation in my life,” he said. “My Class 12 examinations are three days away, but I don’t care about it now. I want my parents to be safe,” he said, as reported by News18.
A phone call he received from his mother changed everything for him.
Announcements from the Pakistani side were warning of heavy shelling and everyone was being evacuated. The call she made to her son was a plea for help.
Now clearly panicking, Mohammad rushed towards an officer. He requested for an ambulance to evacuate his parents. “Don’t worry sir, I will accompany the driver. If he is not willing to go, I will drive,” he said, making frantic appeals to the government medical official, as reported by the publication.
With 40-year-old Mohammad Ashraf Ganie as the ambulance driver, Mohammad set out to rescue his parents. What followed is nothing short of a scene from a movie. As they approached the village, a heavy downpour added to their woes even as bullets began to fly.
After driving through all this for almost half-an-hour, they halted near Balkote, when a bearded man in his 50’s came out of his house and stopped the ambulance. He was Farooq Ahmad, a retired soldier who took them into his home, advising them against moving ahead.
However, having travelled this far, Mohammad as not going to be daunted. He did make the drive and did rescue his parents indeed. After braving rains, bullets and shells – the family is now reunited. And what’s more, he rescued two other families as well.
Kudos to the ambulance driver Ashraf who undertook this trip knowing fully well how dangerous it could be.
Let’s hope that the people in the valley do not have to resort to living in temporary camps and be separated from their loved ones again.
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