As 18 brave children from across the country were being honoured with the National Bravery Awards at New Delhi on Republic Day, the mindnumbing stone-pelting of a school-bus some 30 kilometres away at Gurugram two days previously evoked stringent sentiments around the country. The cowardly attack was allegedly conducted by the Karni Sena protesting against the screening of “Padmaavat” as they have claimed that the movie degrades their culture. Although the organisation has denied involvement and termed the incident as a conspiracy, if the allegations against the outfit are found out to be true, then, in their bid to bolster Rajput pride, they would have joined some organisations of immense repute for attacking children.
Although terrorism, by convention, has targeted non-combatants, terror attacks against children have been sparse and therefore, whenever they have had happened they have shaken the world to its bones. More often than not, attacks on children have been carried out by outfits when the intention of the outfit is to announce their motive loud and clear; whenever such attacks have happened, they have been a show of power and reach of the organisation and the extent to which the organisation is ready to go to prove their point. As such, it is in this light that we have to perceive the recent attack and understand its implications.
To put things into perspective, even the horrific Peshawar school attack of December 2014 by Taliban militants, which had killed at least 132 children, was against the military and the state. A little closer home, the 2004 school bombing at Dhemaji by ULFA had also been against the state of India. However, it must be noted, loud and clear, that none of the examples cited above is being justified in any way. These events should not have happened just as the event two days ago should not have happened. But the examples are cited to draw the contrast between the intent behind them and the attack on the school-bus at Gurugram.
The examples are cited so as to outline what kind of discourse a section of the society is ready to resort to, in order to fulfil their fantasies: a discourse previously charted only by those accused of, and take pride in, sedition. To come to terms with the fact that an incident along the same lines, albeit of weaker intensity, has been brought into effect because of something as trivial as a piece of fiction, is a reminder of how intolerant we have become of things just a smidgen off the characteristics of what is considered ‘ideal’.
Regardless of who is to blame for the attack, the Karni Sena or some other organisation, the fact that the attack was executed in broad daylight not only speaks volumes of the inflammable times we are living in but also testifies to the rise of mob-justice in the state. Of course, this act of calling ‘a small attack on a school bus’ an embodiment of intolerance is, perhaps, exaggeration to an extent, but even then, it falls way short of “Rajput pride“.