Occupation of schools by para-military forces grows in poll-bound Kashmir

Occupation of schools by para-military forces grows in poll-bound Kashmir

Class Work Suspended; Will Look Into The Matter: Education Minister

A day after two schools were handed over by the government to paramilitary forces in poll-bound Kashmir, more educational institutions were taken over by the forces in various parts of central Kashmir today.

Sources said that in the coming days the occupation of school by the forces will grow further in view of the by-polls in Srinagar and Anantnag parliamentary constituencies on April 9 and 12.

On Tuesday more than half a dozen government schools were taken over by forces in Srinagar district, forcing the school authorities to suspend the class work in the schools.

In Srinagar, Government Higher Secondary Schools in Chanpora, Hazratbal, Sonwar, Soura and Zadibal were taken over by CRPF troops. Earlier on Monday two schools – Government Middle School Gagribal and Government High School Drogjan – were taken over by paramilitary troops for their accommodation in view of by polls.

National School in Karan Nagar which also houses four government schools of city has also been taken over by forces on Monday.

“Around three companies are accommodated here at National School. National School as well as other four government schools functioning in the building are closed,” Principal National School said.

The occupation of schools comes at a time when J&K’s Education Minister Syed Muhammad Altaf Bukhari made an announcement of relieving teachers of all additional assignments to “minimize disruption of academic activities.”

The schools, according to the heads of the institutions, were occupied by the paramilitary troops without any intimation to the department or schools authorities.

“We were not informed that our schools will be handed over to forces a week ahead of the elections. We were surprised to see forces inside the school premises,” said a group of teachers.

On Tuesday students as well teachers reached their respective schools, however they were shocked to see their institutions taken over by forces.

“Once we reached to our schools, we were shocked to see paramilitary troops bathing inside the school premises. We couldn’t dare to move inside and advised students to remain outside,” the teachers of one of the schools, taken over by troops, said.

The teachers have been left at a crossroads as the officials in school education department rule out any intimation being received about the occupation of paramilitary forces in schools.

“We are in a limbo whether to stay home or attend the school. Authorities in department are indecisive about it. The schools have been occupied overnight without any intimation to the school authorities,” the teachers said.

Two companies of CRPF are accommodated in GHS Drogjan and one company is accommodated in Gagribal School.

The occupation of troops has turned the schools into garrison. Greater Kashmir visited some such schools and found that the all furniture from classrooms was placed outside in rains.

The CRPF personnel have erected temporary lavatory inside the premises of Drogjan High School Dalgate and parked their vehicles in the premises. Same is the situation in Middle School Gagribal where troops have thrown out furniture outside the building and have set up kitchen on the verandah of the school premises. The troops have occupied all the rooms except office room and computer laboratory.

Besides Srinagar, scores of government schools will be taken over by the CRPF troops in view of the elections.

“CRPF will occupy the schools wherever they need as they have sought accommodations in some Higher Secondary and High Schools. The exercise is going on and various schools in the district will be occupied here,” Chief Education Officer (CEO) Budgam, Inderjeet Sharma, said.

Minister for education, Syed Muhammad Altaf Bukhari, acknowledged that schools will be occupied by paramilitary troops in view of parliamentary polls and said the government will take a decision about the closure of schools.

“I will convene a meeting tomorrow and take a decision regarding the issue. We may announce holiday for students for these days. I have already taken up the matter with IGP. All the election related matters are directly dealt by Election Commission of India (ECI),” the Education Minister said.

Pertinently, over 250 extra companies of paramilitary forces are being deployed in Srinagar and Anantnag parliamentary constituencies for the upcoming polls.

“We had asked for additional 250 companies but some companies were mobilized internally,” Director General of Police (DGP) SP Vaid said.

About the occupation of schools by CRPF troops, he said, “I have already opposed it and asked the DIG to change their (CRPF) accommodation,” he said.