Schools Reopen In J&K: Parents, Children Defy Geelani Calendar27 September 2010
The Economic Times
Srinagar: Educational institutions in the Kashmir Valley spoke against separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s protest calendar by reopening on Monday. Home minister P Chidambaram welcomed the development and appealed to all sections of the people of J&K, especially parents, to co-operate with the state government to ensure that all schools and colleges function normally. Though attendance was low - around 50% in schools and around 30% in colleges - on Monday, the resumption of classes in the Valley comes as a slap in the face of secessionist forces who had forced a shutdown of educational institutions in the Valley over the last 100 days. Mr Chidambaram made this point by underlining the failure of the separatist forces in blocking the resumption of classes in schools and colleges on Monday. “There was a call by one of the Hurriyat leaders to parents asking them not to send their children to school-college. Happily, parents have disregarded that call and sent their children to schools-colleges,” he pointed out. While referring to the few minor incidents of stone pelting on school buses at Habak, Bemina and Nowgam on Monday, the home minister wondered how any “right-thinking person could pelt stones on school buses”. “I hope such mischief will stop immediately...Anyone who has the interest of the children at heart cannot indulge in stone-pelting; nor should anyone support such mischievous attempts to interfere with the functioning of schools and colleges,” he noted in a statement issued on Monday. The authorities expect attendance levels in Kashmir’s schools and colleges to improve over the next few days, as more parents get confident about sending their wards for classes. “I am confident that the few schools and colleges that remained closed today, presumably out of caution, will reopen tomorrow. I am also confident that the attendance will improve significantly,” Mr Chidambaram said. “Security will be provided to enable the students to attend schools and colleges,” he assured the parents. The state government will take more steps through the week to implement the eight-point agenda outlined by the CCS. The Unified Command, headed by the chief minister, is set to meet on Thursday to look into redeployment of forces in Srinagar and other towns so as to reduce their visibility by scaling down bunkers and checkpoints as well as a review of list of areas notified as “disturbed”.