June 12: The 55-year-old braveheart shikarawala (boatman) made Kashmir proud by giving his own life to save a group of tourists from drowning in the gushing waters of Jhelum. Three days have passed, but Guroo’s body is still untraceable in the river.
Tragedy struck on Thursday when Guroo was rowing a shikara to take a group of tourists on a cruise to the old Srinagar city. After returning from Hazrat Shah-e-Hamdan shrine, the boat suddenly lost the balance and capsized near old Fathe Kadal. Guroo, his co-shikarawala and the motor boat driver jumped into the river and rescued all the three tourists.
“Later he tried to relax on the banks when one of the haversacks was swept away by the current. He again jumped into the river to retrieve the bag. However, the gushing waters swept him away and since then he is missing,” said Mohammad Sultan, one of the rescuers who was driving the motor boat.
Guroo’s shikara (small boat) was part of a cruise team that was hired by a group of 10 tourists from Zero Bridge for old city tour. Guroo’s shikara was carrying three tourists including a woman while seven others were on board the motor boat.
“After we rescued them, tourists left this place. Since then we have not seen them. I was summoned by the tourist police yesterday. They were asking me who these tourists were. I said we did not know,” said Sultan.
Guroo was an avid swimmer in his youth was known for crossing the rivers and lakes with ease. Luck however had other things in store for him when he jumped into the river but could not swim to safety.
A pall of gloom has descended on the family of Guroo which has been camping on the banks of Jhelum for the last three days. “How can we go home without his body? He left for earning livelihood and did not return. We got the news at 5.30 pm that he has drowned,” said Mohammad Ramzan Guroo, the elder brother of Guroo.
Massive efforts are on to fish out the body from Jhelum. “Police boats are working overtime to fish out the body. But it continues to remain untraceable. Now the boats have expanded their area of operation to locate the body,” said Noor Mohammad, Jhelum Houseboat Owners Association.
Superintendent of Police, North City, Sajad Khaliq said the body of Guroo has yet not been traced from the river. “The body is still not traceable. The tourists were on the downtown tour (when tragedy struck),” he said.