Ganderbal: Everytime someone drowns in a canal or a river, the first thing locals do is call Bashir Ahmad Mir, a local youth of Kangan in Ganderbal district, who has saved scores of lives and fished out dozens of bodies.
Mir does not think twice before jumping into the gushing waters which are sometimes as deep as 50 feet.
His diving skills and success rate has earned him a great respect and name.
Mir, who belongs to a well off family in Kangan, besides being adventurous and a sports lover is known for his extraordinary swimming skills which he uses to save human lives.
His swimming skills in gushing water of nallah Sindh and lakes of Ladakh region have earned him a name among the people, particularly in Ganderbal district.
Mir has never been to any swimming school but living near nallah Sindh came to his advantage to learn swimming.
Being an extraordinary swimmer, Mir used his skills in social service.
One remarkable aspect of Mir’s heroism is his ability to operate without any equipment for going deep into the water.
He works without gloves, oxygen, and goggles, which are must for a diver’s safety.
Mir, who is in his mid-30s, remembers when he made a beginning as a rescuer in 2001.
He recalls several instances when he put his own life in danger to save someone else’s.
Mir claims to have recovered more than 50 bodies from under the water in the last 10 years or so and rescued dozens of people from water safely.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, he said that he was happy that he was using his skills in the social work for the sake of Allah.
“I am receiving the blessings of the people who I am saving which is enough for me,” Mir said.
He said that along with a training it needs a motivation to put own life at risk to save someone else life.
“You can train people, but you can’t motivate people to put their life at risk by jumping in the gushing waters to save someone else’s life,” Mir said.
He said that his first rescue operation was in 2001 when a young man from Thune area was trapped in nallah Sindh waters and his relatives, locals and Police approached him for help.
“I rescued him safely,” Mir said.
One of his most memorable rescue operations is when a kid of a tourist family in Sonamarg fell into a water stream while taking a picture after which her mother also jumped to save her.
“Coincidently, I was present there and I rescued both of them,” he said.
Mir said that the family still calls him and shares a cordial bond with him.
He said that one of his difficult rescue operation was when a cab carrying Amarnath pilgrims fell into nallah Sindh near Hung area of Sonamarg in 2013. “As soon as I came to know, I rushed to the spot, dived into the water and after continuously searching for almost 10 days, pulled out all bodies,” Mir said.
He said that he always gets support from Police, SDRF and other people.
Though, he is participating voluntarily in rescue operations and that too without any life-saving equipment, Mir’s services are frequently required by rescue agencies.
Ironically, Mir has never been recognised for social work.
“I have no regret. I didn’t start social work for receiving appreciation and awards. The blessing I receive from the people are my best reward,” he said.
“Of late, nallah Sindh and power canals in Ganderbal district have become a hot spot for suicide bidders. Innumerable persons have leapt to death in its waters. Some of them come from far off places. Very few are saved. Sometimes the bodies are recovered days after the incident,” Mir said. “I am a self-trained swimmer like most of the youth in our district who jump into rivers and ponds to have a bath.”
He said it needs will and motivation to jump into the gushing waters to save a life.
On whether he fears for his life given that he has to dive without any equipment, Mir said that every human should come forward to help others that would serve the purpose of coming to this world.
He joined politics in 2008 and has continued his passion for social service. Mir unsuccessfully contested 2014 elections from Kangan assembly segment on PDP’s ticket.
He is also District President Ganderbal of the Peoples Democratic Party.