New Delhi:As a video of scared children crouching in a school bus in Haryana targeted by hooligans protesting Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Movie “Padmaavat” provoked national outrage on Thursday, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi hit out at the Manohar Lal Khattar government for failing to maintain peace in the state.
“There will never be a cause big enough to justify violence against children… The BJP’s use of hatred and violence is setting our entire country on fire,” Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted late on Thursday evening, calling “violence and hatred” “the weapons of the weak”.
The criticism came when protesters attacked a bus of Gurgaon’s GD Goenka School on Thursday afternoon. The students were on their way home when stones shattered the windows of the bus. In a video taken by a staffer, teachers and students were seen ducking to take cover from the hail of stones. A teacher had her arms wrapped around a frightened girl.
Mr Gandhi’s comment, which came hours after this video went viral, is the first by the Congress chief on the movie’s release in recent weeks. He condemned the violence but kept his attack sharply on the ruling BJP in Haryana which, like some other BJP-ruled states, tried to ban the movie but were ordered to back off by the Supreme Court.
The Congress had so far taken a nuanced stand on the movie and often found itself on the same side as the BJP.
Neither of the two parties have been willing to anger the Karni Sena, which commands influence on the Rajput vote-bank and has been leading protests against the 190-crore movie based on an epic poem. Assembly elections are slated to be held in Rajasthan later this year while two Lok Sabha constituencies – Ajmer and Alwar – are in the middle of campaigning and will vote on Monday.
On Twitter, some BJP supporters pointed how Mr Gandhi had avoided mentioning the Karni Sena in his post.Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia, however, were unsparing in their criticism. Mr Kejriwal called the mob violence targeting children “utterly shameful” but underlined that “more disgusting” was the complicity of governments which allowed the mobs through their inaction.
Mr Sisodia said the government and members of the mob who called themselves the Sena, both should be ashamed: “These goons who call themselves Sena who are hurling stones at children in the name of honour of Rajputs and the government, which is scared of these goons,” Mr Sisodia, who is from the Rajput community, said.
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