Outrage mounted across the Valley Wednesday when street protesters, for the first time, stoned a school bus carrying children, leaving a class II student with a serious head injury, another injured and the rest traumatised. The incident drew sharp reactions from parents and authorities who questioned the targeting of a school bus while mainstream parties condemned what Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti called a “senseless and cowardly act”.
Opposition National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said the amnesty granted last year to stone-pelters was being misused by “goons… determined to use the opportunity given them to pelt more stones”. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq of the separatist Hurriyat said the incident was “quite disturbing” and “such hooliganism” will “tarnish our movement”.
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On Wednesday morning, a bus of the Rainbow International School in Shopian, carrying children to school, came under attack from stone-pelters at Narpora village. The protesters were enforcing a shutdown against the killing of two militants, including Sameer Tiger, in an encounter at Drabgam in nearby Pulwama. Two days ago, seven tourists were injured in a similar incident in Ashmuqam village in Anantnag.
Police said a stone hurled by the protesters hit class II student Rehan Goursi on the head. He was taken to Shopian hospital from where doctors referred him to Srinagar. Doctors later said Rehan’s condition appeared to be stable.
Calling the attack “complete madness”, Director General of Police S P Vaid, in a tweet, said: “Miscreants pelted stones on the school bus of Rainbow school Shopian, resulted in injuries to 2nd class student Rehan. He has been shifted to SKIMS for treatment with head injury. Complete madness how stone pelters are targeting young school children. These criminals will face the law.”
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said those behind the attack will be tracked down. “Shocked & angered to hear of the attack on school bus in Shopian. The perpetrators of this senseless and cowardly act will be brought to justice,” she tweeted.
Omar Abdullah too condemned the attack: “How does pelting stones on school children or tourist buses help advance the agenda of stone pelters? These attacks deserve our unequivocal condemnation and this tweet is mine.”
“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 them to pelt more stones,” he said.
Calling the incident “quite disturbing”, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said “one fails to understand why a school bus carrying children was targeted”. He said “those who indulge in such hooliganism should realise that these actions tarnish our movement and provide an opportunity to our adversary to defame it”.
Hurriyat hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani also expressed dismay over the stone-throwing incident. “Our strength lies in discipline and we should keep strict vigil over those involved in these incidents… we need to demonstrate mature thinking and follow discipline,” he said.