October 2016 News

After 23rd School Burns In Kashmir, J-K Government Says Investigation On

27 October 2016
India Today
Naseer Ganai

Srinagar: As another government school was burnt in north Kashmir's Pattan area mysteriously today taking the number of the burnt schools to 23 in past four months, the government today said it is investigating who are involved in the school burning cases. 'Kashmir's 23rd school set on fire today,' tweeted Shahid Chudhary, Director of Information, J&K government after the Pattan incident. Chief Secretary of the State, BR Sharma, said that the state government would protect all institutions. He, however, said he would not accuse anyone at this stage. 'It is a subject of investigation. Once investigation completes, we will let you know who are people involved in burning of schools. At this stage, we cannot say anything,' Sharma told Mail Today. However, senior superintendent of police, Baramulla, Imtiyaz Hussain Mir, accused that separatists were involved. 'In my area, three schools have been burnt by the youths, who are associated with the Hurriyat Conference and other separatist organisations,' Mir told Mail Today. Superintendent Police (SP) Budgam, Abdul Wahid, said in his area one school was burnt. He, however, said it was burnt due to a short circuit. SCHOOLS ACROSS KASHMIR In Kulgam district of south Kashmir, six school buildings were set on fire including two high schools, one higher secondary school, two middle schools and one Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya school. Two schools in Bandipore, two in Baramulla, two in Shopian and two in Anantnag. While as one each school has been burnt in Kupwara, Ganderbal and Pulwama districts. According to Deputy Commissioner, Pulwama, Muneer-ul-Islam, one school was burnt in his area after a killing of a local youth by government forces, two months ago. 'Since then no one has touched schools in my district,' he said. Education Minister and the government spokesman, Naeem Akhtar, said that it was very obvious to guess who was doing all this. Akhtar didn't name Hurriyat Conference but said, 'Those, who have vested interests in keeping children out of school and use them as soldiers of future wars, are doing it.' 'The assault on education and inability of leaders to stop what is happening looks like an attempt at the collective suicide. Education is like oxygen and they are denying our younger generation of this basic necessity of survival as dignified people,' Akhtar said. ANTI-PEOPLE ELEMENTS Hurriyat Conference issued a statement hinting that the schools were being burnt under watchful eyes of police. 'In different areas, schools have been burnt and we have reports that culprits do so under police's watchful eyes,' the Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Geelani said. 'Anti-people elements were carrying out these anti-social actions in broad daylight with a well planned strategy to malign the ongoing movement and paint it as violent and anarchist,' the Hurriyat Conference said. Hurriyat has asked people and youths to expose 'these elements and safeguard our pious struggle and project it in its real perspective.' As education institutions are closed since unrest broke out in Kashmir on July 8, a five member Indian delegation headed by Former External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha approached Geelani today, second time since Monday, urging him to help the state government to open schools. Geelani said he informed the delegation that education was important and essential for dignified life. The Hurriyat Conference told the delegation that no sane person can oppose or deny the importance of education. 'We believe that education is a basic necessity for nation building. But education can only thrive in a calm, peaceful and dignified atmosphere, as mere attending the school may sooth the eyes of perpetrators and their jingoistic media may capture them in their lenses to portray an illusionary breakthrough,' the Hurriyat said. The Hurriyat said 'these stooges (state government and government forces) after causing deaths and blinding school children through pellets' were faking concern abut opening of schools.' The schools and other educational institutions are closed since July 9 after the protests broke out in Kashmir over the killing of militant commander, Burhan Muzaffer Wani. On Thursday, Kashmir entered into 110th day of the unrest. Since then 94 civilians, mostly youth, have been killed and over 10,000 injured, by government forces firing bullets and pellets at protesters. The police have arrested over 6000 youths involved in various cases including stone throwing and over 400 political activists and separatist leaders have been booked under preventive detention law called Public Safety Act.