November 2016 News

Police Form Night Patrol Parties To Protect Educational Institutions

5 November 2016
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Ishfaq Tantry

Srinagar: Amid continuous incidents of burning of schools, the J&K Police have started night patrolling in sensitive areas across Kashmir focusing on protection of schools. As many as 37 incidents of arson attacks involving complete or partial burning of schools have been reported from 10 districts of Kashmir during the unrest period which today completed 120 days. This includes the latest incident involving the burning of a primary school in Dugpora Gadoora in Ganderbal district of central Kashmir on Friday evening. While as the authorities publicly acknowledge that it is very difficult to protect each and every school in Kashmir given the vast geographical spread of the educational infrastructure in the region, the J&K Police have now formed night patrol teams to prevent incidents of arson involving burning of schools whom the High Court has termed as 'mysterious enemies of education'. The police authorities have passed instructions to all the officials, including the SHOs concerned, to take cognisance of all the arson attack in their respective areas, an official said. In the instruction passed by the police at the 'highest' level 'the police officials concerned have been directed to take cognisance of all arson cases invariably by registering FIRs to set investigation and legal machinery into motion'. It has further been emphasised that the investigation into the arson attacks, involving schools also, should be 'augmented by all available scientific-forensic evidences' and the investigation should be 'done expeditiously', given the gravity and the urgency of the matter as its cognisance has also been taken by the High Court, which has also sought a 'detailed and consolidated' compliance reports from the Chief Secretary, Director General Police and Director, Education, Kashmir, on the steps taken for 'protection and prevention' of school torching. While describing the matter as 'most urgent', in the instructions passed, the police officials concerned have also been urged to 'discourage' granting of extensions in the investigations involving school arson attacks, thus setting a time limit. Though police have claimed arrest of 22 suspects involved in torching of schools, including the recent arrest of five suspects by the Baramulla police in Tapper village. However, the investigators largely appear clueless. The first incident of schools burning was reported from Anantnag district on September 10, but despite the passage of nearly two months since, the state government is unable to 'unmask' the 'mysterious enemies of education'. The government has, however, blamed separatists for burning the schools. The separatists, who are spearheading the current unrest by issuing weekly calendars, have, however, termed the school torching as a 'diversionary tactics' to shift the focus away from the alleged government atrocities and human rights abuses and called for 'school protection day' on Monday.