Hindu Muslim Unity: Muslim pilot first to rescue Kedarnath pilgrims

rescuing pilgrims in Kedarnath

DEHRADUN: When the IAF flew it first sortie to save pilgrims trapped by the raging waters of the Alaknanda in Kedarnath , at the cockpit was Wing Commander S M Yunus. The first batch of 20 people was evacuated to Guptkashi. From there, they made their way to Dehradun. Yunus reckons he might have flown about 500 people in innumerable sorties to safety. “We continued the operation on June 18 and 19,” he said from his current location in Joshimath. “I was then told to rescue people from the more isolated Harsil sector, ahead of Uttarkashi, and in a restricted helipad at about 6000 ft.”

So what was it like for a Muslim to be one of the first to come to the aid of Hindu pilgrims? Yunus laughs out loud before giving a quick answer. “In the Air Force we are taught only one religion – to be Indian . That is what IAF pilots are trained to be. Had it not been for such tragic circumstances, I would have been grateful and happy to see the holy shrine.”

Read more: Communal Harmony

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