Did Kashmir Govt Announce Summer Break To Thwart Anti-Israel Protest?

14 July 2014
Kashmir Dispatch
Ieshan Wani

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir government's decision to order summer vacation for schools and colleges in the valley on Monday has raised eyebrows as the resistance leadership in the conflict-torn region had called upon students to protest the Israel attacks on Gaza strip in which over 170 people have been killed so far. Protests against the Israel attack, both aerial and ground, on Gaza have escalated in the region and students have been at the forefront of the stir that has remained peaceful. Students across the colleges in the region have led protest which continued on Monday. The student community here is raising eyebrows over the government's 'sudden' decision to announce a two-week summer break, particularly after the top officer of the state's education department on Sunday told the press that they had not taken any decision yet. A Srinagar-based news agency had quoted Director School Education Kashmir Tariq Ali as having said: 'We have not decided as yet'. The senior resistance leader and chairman of All Parties Hurriyat Conference (G) Syed Ali Geelani asking students to protest against Israel after the Zuhar prayers on Tuesday may have made government to revise its earlier decision. The government has ordered the break on Tuesday which coincides with Geelani's protest call. Geelani appealed the college and university students to wear black arm bands to show solidarity with the oppressed and subjugated people of Palestine. Reports that Kashmir Dispatch received from various colleges of Kashmir say many of the institutions are conducting internal exams and sudden announcement has come as 'shock' for many students. A student, who was also the part of the banned Kashmir University Students Union (KUSU), said that 'traditionally for colleges summer vacations are scheduled every year in the first week of August. This is a part of curbing the protest of students which were taking place everyday now in solidarity with Gaza.' 'Today they (Government) saw huge protest at City Centre, which may have alerted them. It's a part of curbing dissent,' he said. Earlier today students had held protest in north and south of the valley against the continuous strikes on Gaza which has claimed more than 170 lives, most of them civilians. Inzaman, a student at Baramulla College, told Kashmir Dispatch: 'This sudden decision by the government has put us in an awkward position. I was scheduled to appear for my first exam tomorrow and was whole day preparing for it. Already our sessions had started late and we haven't completed even 50 per cent of syllabus.' Talking to Kashmir Dispatch over phone Director School Education Kashmir, Tariq Ali denied that current protest against Israel by students had anything to do with the government's decision. 'We were waiting for the government to approve the proposal that I had noted on Saturday. We also talked to Jammu counterparts as well about the vacations,' he said. 'We had yesterday told we have done nothing about the decision. I had told the media that it was rumor that summer vacations were from 23 of this month,' Ali claimed. Many students also took to social networking websites to express surprise. 'The government thinks we are fools. But Mr Omar Abdullah let me tell you that we are children of conflict and understand each trick that you have in your bag,' Shafat Manzoor, a college student, wrote in Facebook. Officials at the helm of department of higher education, which controls the college education in the region, were not available for the comment. Interestingly, this is the first time in the recent years that vacations for the schools and colleges will coincide in the region.