Trapped with a busload of children, Parvesh Kumar, the driver of the school bus attacked by a stone-throwing mob in Gurgaon on Wednesday, told himself - don't stop. He looked at the attackers and gestured with his hands that he had little children in the bus.
"I slowed down but I kept driving, never stopped, until we were away from danger," shared the 48-year-old, a bus driver for the GD Goenka World School. But he believes it is his silent appeal to the mob that hit home. Someone in the crowd urged his associates to back off and let the bus go.
For his remarkable courage, Mr Kumar was rewarded with the gratitude of around 30 sets of parents.
Eighteen people were arrested today for throwing stones at the school bus, an attack that has appalled the nation.
The bus was not far from school when on the Sohna road, traffic slowed down to a crawl because of the blockade by a mob protesting against the release of the film "Padmaavat" today.
"I suddenly found a traffic jam. We were trying to move through it when someone threw stones at the bus and a window shattered," Mr Kumar said. The windscreen was also smashed.
Some of the children were hurt when they had to crouch on a floor littered with broken glass.
"The police drove out the protesters but they returned, came out of the bushes and attacker our bus," he said.
There were children on almost every seat. They ducked and fell onto the floor as stones came flying from all sides. Some of the attackers hit the bus with sticks.
Ignoring the banging and stone-throwing, the driver maneuvered the bus to safety. Had Mr Kumar not kept moving, worse could have happened, he believed.
"Padmaavat" released today amid violent protests by groups like Karni Sena who insist that the film hurts Rajput pride and twists the story of 14th century Queen Padmini and Sultan Alauddin Khilji, who launched an invasion to capture her.
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