Schools still occupied by forces rendered vulnerable

Schools still occupied by forces rendered vulnerable

It’s Unfortunate, Will Try To Evacuate Troops From All Schools: Education Minister

Scores of government schools in central and south Kashmir districts continue to remain occupied by paramilitary troops taking a toll on the academics of the students.

Even if the divisional administration has evacuated paramilitary troops from a few schools but some others, taken over by CRPF ahead of LS polls in Srinagar and Anantnag parliamentary constituency, are yet to be set free.

The prolonged occupation of troops has made these schools vulnerable to attacks of stone pelting.

“Given the prevailing situation in Kashmir, we have apprehensions that these schools may come under attack of stone pelting or some people may try to burn these schools,” said a group of teachers.

Scores of educational institutions in central and south Kashmir districts were taken over by paramilitary forces – called for election duty in poll bound Kashmir – in first week of April ahead of by-elections in Srinagar and Anantnag parliament constituency. 

“The paramilitary troops are still in our schools. Their presence in our schools has affected the academics of the students enrolled in these schools,” said a group of teachers.

The government has evacuated troops from Government Higher Secondary Schools Hazratbal, Sonwar, Soura, Zadibal and SP Model HSS.

However, Government HSS Nishat, Government Middle School Gagribal and Government Girls High School Drogjan continue to remain occupied by forces.

“Our students and teachers reported to school today morning but the troops present inside the school told them that they will continue to stay in the schools for some time,” said Zonal Education Officer (ZEO) Nishat.

National High School in Karan Nagar, which also houses four other government schools, continues to remain occupied by troops which has taken a toll on the students.

“We approached DC Srinagar and Director School Education Kashmir and requested them to evacuate troops from the school so that the students can resume their classes,” Principal National School, Abdul Aziz, said.

Minister for Education, Syed Muhammad Altaf Bukhari, termed the prolonged occupation of educational institutions by paramilitary troops as unfortunate and said the students were losing their valuable time.

“It is unfortunate, but we will try to get them (paramilitary troops) evacuated as soon as possible,” the Education Minister said.

He however hinted that the schools may remain occupied by forces till April 15. “It doesn’t seem that forces will leave the schools before 15 April,” Bukhari said.

He said the deployment and accommodation of paramilitary forces was under the jurisdiction of Election Commission of India (ECI).

“It is under jurisdiction of ECI. Paramilitary troops have come on their recommendations,” he said.

Asked whether the schools occupied by forces be closed officially, he said: “Schools can’t be officially closed. We can’t announce an official holiday for the teachers and students of these schools. I t is not feasible to close down the schools.”

He said the teachers are government employees and occupation of schools by troops won’t be considered as holiday for them as well.

“We can’t officially tell them not to come to schools,” he said.

Meanwhile a top official said the schools in south Kashmir districts, where LS polls have been deferred till May 25, will be set free as soon as possible.

“Academics in schools is badly hit. We won’t let them (troops) stay in schools for long. Students are suffering. All the schools will be set free in a day or two,” a senior official in district administration Anantnag said.