October 2016 News

Education Under Fire As Schools Go Up In Flames

28 October 2016
Rising Kashmir
Yawar Hussain

Srinagar: Amid the raging controversy over the conduct of examinations in the restive Kashmir valley, school after school is going up in flames. A total of 24 schools have been torched in Kashmir during the ongoing uprising, leaving 4000 students affected, and incurring losses to the tune of Rs 5 crore. Of these 24 schools, seven were torched in Kulgam, four in Budgam, three in Baramulla, two in Bandipora, Shopian and Ganderbal, and one in Anantnag, Pulwama, Kupwara and Srinagar, Chief Education Officers of the respective districts told Rising Kashmir. South Kashmir, which is at the heart of the ongoing uprising, has been most affected with 11 schools being torched in the region followed by central Kashmir with seven schools and north Kashmir with six in schools. Talking to Rising Kashmir, Director Education Aijaz Ahmad Bhat said a total of 24 schools have been torched during the past three and a half month of ongoing uprising. He said of these 24 schools, 11 were fully damaged while 13 were partially damaged. 'The arson has left 4000 students studying in these 24 schools affected,' Bhat said. 'The losses incurred are to the tune of Rs 5 crore.' Kashmir has remained shut for the past 112 days following the killing of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander, Burhan Muzaffar Wani during which educational institutions have remained closed. The closed schools have of late remained in news with the Minister for Education and government spokesman, Naeem Akhtar appealing Chairman of Hurriyat Conference (G) Syed Ali Geelani to allow functioning of schools so that the education of children does not suffer. Akhtar also expressed concern over torching of schools saying the damage to schools was not just burning of institutions but colossal loss for the entire society. Geelani's faction of Hurriyat Conference Friday expressed concern over the continuous and widespread incidents of torching of school buildings. In a statement, Hurriyat (G) said, 'Those involved in such acts can never be the well wishers of the society not to talk of the movement and these acts are purposely used to malign the movement as authorities have miserably failed after using every tool in their armory to curb this movement.' Director General of Police, K Rajendra Kumar said the torching of schools was a matter of concern. 'We are in the process of identifying the miscreants and also putting in place some security measures to avoid such incidents,' he said. Kashmir's civil society also termed torching of schools as a grave concern. A civil society group Kashmir Centre for Social and Developmental Studies (KCSDS) expressed anguish and concern over the rising incidents of torching of school buildings in Kashmir and warned elements involved to desist from such 'shameful criminal acts'. 'It is a recipe for the complete devastation of the young generation,' a statement of KCSDS said and urged the government to depoliticise the opening of schools and conducting of exams. The torched schools are leaving teachers panicky and some teachers have decided to guard schools during the nights. 'Following the fire incidents, we held deliberations with district administration and teachers regarding safety of schools and the teachers volunteered to stay in school premises during night hours to ensure safety of the buildings,' Chief Education Officer Kulgam, Abdul Rouf Shahmiri said. 7 schools torched in Kulgam - CEO Kulgam Abdul Rauf Shahmiri 4 schools torched in Budgam - CEO Budgam Inderjeet Sharma 3 schools torched in Baramulla - CEO Baramulla Mushtaq Ahmed 2 schools torched in Ganderbal - CEO Ganderbal Soni Sanam 2 schools torched in Bandipora - CEO Bandipora Muhammad Shafi 2 schools torched in Shopian - CEO Muhammad Sadiq 1 school torched in Srinagar - CEO Srinagar Arif Iqbal 1 school torched in Pulwama - CEO Pulwama Hamid Kumar 1 school torched in Anantnag - CEO Ghulam Rasool Shah 1 school torched in Kupwara - CEO Farooq Ahmed