New Delhi, Jan 25: It's a mere film, but for anti-Padmaavat protesters, it has become a matter of life and death.
So, on Wednesday afternoon, just hours before the film was set to release in theatres across the country, members belonging to right-wing groups decided to attack a school bus with children in Gurgaon.
The horrifying bus attack left the young passengers mortified as protesters threw rocks at the vehicle.
In order to save themselves from getting injured, terrified children crouched on the bus floor and others cried in panic. But nothing could stop the anger of a violent mob that was hell-bent on unleashing terror because a film is allegedly hurting their Rajput pride and Hindu sentiments.
Reports say the bus belonged to GD Goenka World School. The attack took place on Sohna Road near Delhi at around 3 pm on Wednesday. During the attack at least 30 children with teachers and a staff member were inside the bus as they were on their way back home.
While the attackers were throwing rocks at the bus which left its windows broken, another group of goons set a state-run bus on fire.
As the attacks on vehicles and public properties continued, the policemen did nothing to stop the violence, alleged teachers and the staff member of the school.
Since the last few days, protesters belonging to the Shri Rajput Karni Sena and other Hindu right-wing groups have been attacking malls, multiplexes and setting vehicles on fire in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh--all ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
As violent protests against Padmaavat continue to rock, it seems the BJP has decided to bow down in front of the Hindu extremists to protect their vote banks. The Congress is equally guilty for the latest round of violence against the Sanjay Leela Bhansali film because of its studied silence over the entire controversy.
Several right-wing groups led by the Shri Rajput Karni Sena have been vehemently opposing the public screening of the film since last year as it allegedly hurt the Hindu sentiments by depicting queen Padmavati (Padmini) in a bad light.
They are demanding a complete ban on Padmaavat, in spite of several scenes being deleted from the film, including changing the title from Padmavati to Padmaavat, as suggested by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).
After the CBFC (also known as the Censor Board) approved the film, several BJP-ruled states like Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh decided to ban the film. However, the Supreme Court has asked the states to release the film and provide security measures to thwart any violence.
The apex court's ruling also did not awake the BJP government to take necessary action against the goons roaming freely and spreading violence and hatred in the name of Hindu pride.
All these days, Indians, like politicians belonging to various parties, too were quietly observing the whole drama surrounding the film. However, Wednesday's school bus attack drew sharp criticism from various quarters.
Finally, breaking his silence over the protests against the Bollywood magnum opus, Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted, "There will never be a cause big enough to justify violence against children. Violence and hatred are the weapons of the weak. The BJP's use of hatred and violence is setting our entire country on fire."
There will never be a cause big enough to justify violence against children. Violence and hatred are the weapons of the weak. The BJP's use of hatred and violence is setting our entire country on fire.— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) January 24, 2018
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal called the attack against the children "utterly shameful".
Utterly shameful. More disgusting is the complicity of those govts who r allowing it thro their inaction https://t.co/zLfsnpN39e— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) January 24, 2018
Deputy CM of Delhi Manish Sisodia questioned the BJP and the Shri Rajput Karni Sena for violence against school students.
मैं भाजपा व कर्णी सेना से पूछना चाहता हूँ - आप इतने निर्मम और निर्दयी हैं कि मासूम बच्चों को भी नहीं बख्शा? आप कहते हो हम हिंदुओ, राजपूतों के लिए लड़ रहे हैं। पर इन बच्चों में भी कई हिंदू होंगे, शायद कुछ राजपूत भी हों।— Manish Sisodia (@msisodia) January 24, 2018
आपने बच्चों पर हमला क्यों किया?
आख़िर किसके लिए लड़ रहे हो?
The Congress lambasted the BJP government in Haryana over its "failure" to maintain law and order in the wake of the attack on the school bus by goons protesting the release of the film, Padmaavat.
Randeep Surjewala took to Twitter to term the attack as "unacceptable" and "reprehensible" that endangered the lives of children.
हरियाणा के गुडगाँव में अनर्थक व खौंफनाक हिंसा— Randeep S Surjewala (@rssurjewala) January 24, 2018
हमारा वक्तव्य :- pic.twitter.com/x7bblSd1jL
Several people protested on social media against the violent means resorted by the right-wing groups to express their unhappiness over the ill-fated cinematic journey of Bhansali.
Here we bring you some more tweets:
Our Republic Day is two days away and our children are terrified and sobbing inside a school bus attacked by shameless thugs over a damned movie. Rage Rage Against The Dying Of The Light... #Padmaavat— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) January 24, 2018
Attacking Kids to Prove the Care for the Dignity of a Woman??? Seriouslyyy ??? 🙏🙏👏👏#Padmaavat— Chandan Verma (@chandan2419) January 24, 2018