Despite the approval of the Supreme Court and that of the state governments, the fringe groups are still against the film Padmaavat.
Little children crouched on the floor, some clamping their mouth in fear, as a mob protesting against the film Padmaavat threw rocks at their school bus in Gurgaon near Delhi on Wednesday afternoon.
More than a dozen children of the GD Goenka World School, from nursery to Class 12, were on the bus with teachers and staff, on their way home, around 3 pm. The youngest was heard crying in a mobile phone video that has captured several terrifying moments on the bus.
Teachers and students were seen on the space between the seats, ducking to take cover from the hail of stones. A teacher had her arms wrapped around a frightened girl.
Showing remarkable presence of mind, the driver drove away from the attackers and maneuvered the bus to safety.
The school bus was right behind a state-run bus that had been set on fire and wrecked by the mob.
After the attack, the seats were filled with shards of glass.
Policemen were present but they could do nothing to help the group, the teachers and staff complained.
“There were policemen, but no one was listening to them. The mob didn’t care… We covered all the children and made them sit on the floor,” said a teacher.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal blamed the Haryana government for their inaction. “Utterly shameful. More disgusting is the complicity of those governments who are allowing it through their inaction,” he tweeted.
Some schools in Gurgaon have announced that they will be closed on Thursday.
Gurgaon Police Commission Sandeep Khirwar told a national television that strict action will be taken against those involved in the violence. “This is a very condemnable incident. We have brought some culprits to book. Will take stringent action against them,” he said.
Protesters also burnt a bus and blocked roads in other parts of Haryana and in Rajasthan. They forced shops to shut in Uttar Pradesh and attacked vehicles in Gujarat. Violent protests were also reported in Madhya Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. The Karni Sena has asked supporters to ensure movie halls are unable to screen the film.
The Multiplex Association of India, which represents about 75% of multiplex owners, said its members would not screen the movie in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Goa. “The local management has told us that the law and order situation is not conducive,” its president Deepak Asher was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India.
In Rajasthan, distributors refused to screen “Padmaavat” citing the protests. Besides Delhi-Jaipur highway, traffic was hit on Delhi-Ajmer highway as protesters burnt tires. In Sikar, a bus was stoned. The Chittor Fort was shut down for the second time in its centuries-old history after Karni Sena members tried to break in.
The protesters believe the film distorts history and shows Rani Padmini, the legendary queen of Chittor, in a poor light. The film, starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, and Shahid Kapur, was cleared by the censor board after a number of edits and a change of title from Padmavati to Padmaavat.