May 2017 News

Schoolchildren In Valley Want Peace And Studies To Return

21 May 2017
India Today
Devina Gupta

Srinagar: Every morning little Merham (name changed) wakes up before the alarm bell rings to get ready for school. Unlike other kids in her group who want to be doctors, her dream is to become a NASA scientist for which she has already charted a plan. 'I want to go to Chandigarh University first and then will apply for aeronautical engineering courses in US and go to NASA,' says young, lively Merham. But for that Merham hopes that her school remains open in the tense valley of Kulgam in Kashmir. 'We are facing a great challenge to keep our schools open. Till the time Kashmir dispute is resolved, we will continue to live in fear,' said Ghulam Hasan, chairman of LCS school in Kulgam. Disheartened by politics around Kashmir, he says his only priority is to keep his 200 students safe. 'NEED PEACE': Recently India Today TV investigation had revealed how separatists leaders have been getting access to cross-border funds to torch schools and government buildings in Kashmir. Till last November, around 25 schools were gutted in fire as unrest spread in parts of Anantnag and Kulgam. 'I am not scared of going to school and hate it when its shut down. Our studies suffer whenever the school has to be shut down because of the tensions,' said Sadiya (name changed) who studies in Kulgam. Fearing for the future of their children, many families have been leaving the area. 'Many students have dropped out after the violent episode of schools being targeted last year. This year we have seen less number of students continuing', said Ghulam Hasan. For him every day of peace counts as his students continue to inspire him to keep his school running. 'I want to be a scientist and do research on Vitiligo. I don't want to leave Kashmir. I want to work for my people here, but for that we need peace,' says young Rukhsana (name changed) who studies in class 12. These girls see life differently from a very young age. Responsibility comes early and so does the urge to succeed despite the odds. Even a simple task of wearing a uniform is dangerous and uncertainty is way of life. However, living on the edge, these students are infused with courage to achieve their dreams. 'This has become part of our life, why should I be scared? This is my state and I don't want to leave it' says Sadiya (name changed) to India Today TV. 'THOSE SPREADING FIRE IN VALLEY WILL BE DEALT WITH IRON HAND': Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, in her youth-reached-out programme, has promised to provide job opportunities to the youth in the state. However, the first step should be to secure primary schools where kids are vulnerable targets for terrorists. She has assured that those 'spreading fire in the Valley' will be dealt with iron hand. 'There is a section, which has accepted they will get money to disrupt peace of the state and they are actually disrupting the peace. So law of land will take action,' told Mehbooba Mufti to India Today TV.