The blatant and cowardly attack on a school bus with children in Jammu and Kashmir’s Shopian district has sparked an uproar nationwide. While incidents of stone-pelting are no rare sight in the Kashmir valley, the attack on the school bus which left two students injured has shocked the nation and evoked sharp reactions from political parties. So much so, that even separatist leaders who have traditionally stood by stone-pelters arguing that such acts of aggression were “for a cause” also came out to condemn the incident.
Pictures of a class 2 student who suffered a serious head injury was splashed across television screens all day yesterday. The student has been identified as Rehan Gorsai who is now recovering at the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital (SMHS) in Srinagar. His condition is stated to be stable, reports claimed. According to police, the bus of a private school, which was carrying around 35 students, was attacked by stone pelters in Zavooora area. This is a second such incident after a school bus was attacked by a mob who were protesting against the film “Padmaavat” in January this year in Gurugram.
Taking tough cognisance of the shocking incident, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has vowed that perpetrators behind this “senseless and cowardly act” will be brought to justice soon. “Shocked and angered to hear of the attack on a school bus in Shopian. The perpetrators of this senseless and cowardly act will be brought to justice,” she tweeted. Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah condemned the attack on the school bus. “How does pelting stones on school children or tourist buses help advance the agenda of these stone pelters? These attacks deserve our unequivocal condemnation & this tweet is mine,” Omar wrote on his Twitter handle.
Abdullah has raised the issue of “amnesty”. “The amnesty granted to stone-pelters was meant to encourage more reasonable behaviour but some of these goons are determined to use the opportunity given to them to just pelt more stones,” Omar said in a tweet.
Prominent separatist leaders like Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Yasin Malik have vehemently criticised the incident underlining that a “discipline” must be maintained. While Kashmiris took to the social media to protest against the act. The general feeling was that there could no anti or pro stand in such cases. The principal of the private school (Rainbow International School) has announced that school will remain closed today citing issues related to the security of the students.
Director General of Police S P Vaid has condemned the incident saying, “Complete madness how stone pelters are targeting young school children. These criminals will face the law.” National Conference spokesman Junaid Mattu also condemned the incident and took a dig at separatists, saying “One would expect (Syed Ali Shah) Geelani and Mirwaiz (Umer Farooq) to take a conscientious call and condemn stone pelting while reserving the right to espouse their political ideologies through non-violence. You can’t claim the moral high ground while refusing to condemn this unequivocally.”
While the condemnation over the incident was unequivocal, politics over the act wasn’t too far behind. In Delhi, Congress lashed out at PDP-BJP coalition government in the state and demanded a statement from Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the issue. “I think the situation in Kashmir is very-very serious…Now there is a massive law and order problem there and the school buses are being targeted. So this is a very serious situation. I think the government should immediately come out with a statement. The Home Minister should come out with a statement. They should explain to the nation as to why this is the situation in J&K,” Congress leader Rajiv Shukla said.
Claiming that there is a complete failure of law and order in Jammu and Kashmir, Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant yesterday demanded that President’s Rule be imposed in the state. “There is no law and order left in Jammu and Kashmir. If stones can be pelted on students, who is safe there? The government there has miserably failed on all fronts, including law and order,” he said.