Barely looking up at the visitors standing by his bed, 11-year-old Rehan Goursi said, “I am never sitting on the window side of the bus again.” The Class II student, who was injured on Wednesday when his school bus was pelted with stones, is being treated at Srinagar’s SMHS hospital for head injury.
In his home town, parents of students who were in the bus questioned motivation of those behind the attack. Schools in Shopian have managed to open only five days in April owing to frequent strikes and shutdowns.
An FIR was on Thursday lodged in the case but no arrest has been made so far.
Mohammad Anwar, a government employee from Shopian, said all parents will approach the district administration and urge them to ensure security of school buses. “Both my sons were in that bus. What if more children had been hit? Or worse, if the driver had been hit, the bus could have fallen off a cliff,” he said.
The bus driver, Javaid Ahmad, who was ferrying more than 30 students from Kellar area in Shopian to Rainbow International School, roughly 20 km away, said he did not see it coming. “No one attacks buses… when one of the students was hit, I did not know whether to stop or carry on,” he said. He said that he did not see anyone pelting stones because they hit the bus from a distance.
Another parent, who did not wish to be named, said if the administration wishes to open schools, it must ensure safety of students. “How can we send them to school if we cannot be sure they will return safely?” he said.
Asiya, a social science teacher who was sitting next to Rehan in the bus, said she held her hand over his head to stop the bleeding till they reached the school.
The bus was enroute the school, at approximately 9:50 am, hours before gunshots from the encounter in Turkwangam village were heard. “The attack on the bus happened much before the encounter started. This was not a fallout of that. This was most likely some mischief-makers looking for a day off,” Asiya said.
Rehan’s father, Nooruddin Goursi, a government school teacher, said he hopes to take his son home soon. “It will make her (Rehan’s mother) feel better to see that he’s better,” he said.