‘Education Department Denied Information To Civil Society Group Under RTI’
The school education department has denied information under RTI Act regarding occupation of schools by government forces in last three decades in Kashmir. The information was sought by a civil society group here.
According to a report prepared by Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), titled ‘Terrorized – Impact of violence on children of Jammu and Kashmir’, the department has denied information to it.
“The information regarding the number of schools and colleges occupied or vacated by the armed forces in the last three decades was not provided by the department citing no such data has been maintained.
“The response and denial of information were shocking. Even the State Information Commission (SIC) took a strong note of it saying that the department had been maintaining this data as the government has constantly put in efforts to get schools and educational buildings occupied by armed forces vacated,” the JKCCS said.
Khuram Parvez, human rights activist and Program Coordinator JKCCS said, “We have been seeking information from the department consistently, but they don’t respond.”
He added: “The schools and colleges are the property of the department. It is unbelievable that they don’t have records of their own institutions. The forces cannot enter an institution without the permission of the government.”
Quoting the report ‘State of human rights in Jammu and Kashmir: 1990 to 2005’ of Public Commission on Human Rights (PCHR), the civil society group said there were 46 schools and educational establishments occupied by armed forces during that period.
“According to the report, the number of schools occupied in district Srinagar was ten; in Anantnag six; in Baramulla 18, in Kupwara five, in Budgam five and in Pulwama two,” the group said.
“Schools, colleges, and other educational institutions in Jammu and Kashmir have been used as military bases, interrogation centers, and military posts. The continued military use of schools in Jammu and Kashmir not only violates children’s right to education, but also puts them at risk of being sexually exploited and harassed by the forces,” the JKCCS report states.
“The 2016 sexual assault of a minor girl in Handwara is a case in point. The victim was assaulted just outside her school. The case presents an intimate portrayal of the correlation between militarization and sexual violence,” the report states.
The impact of the protracted nature of conflict and the continued military use of schools has also affected the dropout rate of school going children in Jammu and Kashmir, it says.
“The report ‘State of human rights in Jammu and Kashmir (1990 – 2005)’ maintained that there has been an alarming increase in the dropout rate of the school going children mostly of 1st to 7th standard students,” the JKCCS report reads.