The attack on Amarnath pilgrims sent shock waves throughout the nation. It was undoubtedly an attack on Hinduism with the motive to create fear in the minds of devotees. Despite great efforts and planning on the part of the terrorists, there emerged two heroes without who’s bravery the number of casualties would have been way more.

When I mentioned that there were twoheroes, most of the readers would have been confused. Some might even have doubted the authenticity of the writing because if one were to believe the media, there was only hero – Salim, the bus driver. But there was another, the unsung hero, the man to whom even Salim owes his life.

Salim Mirza, who hails from Gujarat, reached Surat airport where he was greeted by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. Along with him was the hero no one knows, the hero no one even cares to talk about. But Salim did talk about him and gave him due credit.

Harsh, who was seated in the cleaner’s seat, is the hero we’re talking about. Salim says, “To be honest, it was Harshbhai, seated in the cleaner’s seat who told me not to stop the bus and move fast.He was the one who advised me to duck. So after the first few bullets, I lay on the floor. I did not know where the bus was going, but kept my hand on the steering wheel. Harshbhai, meanwhile, fell to the bullets that I would have received had I not crouched.”*

He clearly says that Harsh took the bullets that he would have taken had Harsh not forced him to crouch. And that it was Harsh who kept his nerve in such a drastic situation and not only did the right thing himself but even got Salim to do the right thing.

The obvious question that comes to mind is – Had Harsh not shown the immense bravery that he did, would Salim been able to save the lives of the pilgrims? No. We aren’t taking credit away from Salim who did a remarkable job of keeping the bus moving, but what Harsh did was something that’s very rarely seen. He decided to take bullets himself; such selflessness and heroism deserves to be known by the people.

Even though Salim himself has spoken about Harsh’s bravery, the media has chosen to completely ignore him. As if he simply didn’t exist at the scene. But why so?

The fact that the media has solely focused on Salim is because he’s a Muslim, and the media has dutifully abided by its philosophy of constantly portraying Islam in good light even in instances of terrorism and maligning Hinduism as being an extremist and violent religion.

The media disagrees when someone says that the terrorists who attacked the pilgrims were Muslims. The media disagrees when someone says that the attack was on Hindus; it says the attack was an assault on humanity. The media disagrees to talk about the religion of the cops who took the bullets while defending the pilgrims. But the same media is quick to lash onto the religion of the driver.

Why couldn’t the media keep Salim’s name hidden, like it does when Muslims are accused of raping a youth?And what problem does the media have in highlighting the heroics of Harsh?

Talking about Salim’s bravery is correct, but the actions of Harsh in unprecendented pressure should be discussed in the same vein. Or does the media fear that the glory they are showering on Salim and thus hailing secularism will get diluted by including Harsh, a Hindu, in their praises?

What Salim did is praise-worthy, what Harsh did is also. We salute both, but this article is particularly meant to shower prominence on Harsh’s courage, and meant to expose the glaring hypocrisy of the media. As long as we have everyday heroes like Harsh in the country, nefarious designs of enemies will always fail.

*Source of the excerpt: Mumbai Mirror


Vinayak Jain

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