In early nineties when schools, bridges and post-offices were being torched to clean Kashmir of all such nuisance, some `warm-blooded' people called it a `part of the game' without which revolutions don't happen. Some put it as a `small destruction' done only to achieve a larger goal. A baker in my neighbourhood responded and his response was innocent and unschooled. He said, aghar aes azad gachav hindustan taavanzad niya yim sakool panas seeth (if we achieve freedom, will a goddamn India take these schools along). `Isn't this our capital which will still stay with us wherever we go and whatever our fate', he asked. An unread baker could see what many well-read in the town were blind to. The man is dead, but his words come alive as we face the same crisis today.
Who is torching schools? Whoever, but the fact is that we are losing our capital and losing it fast. Separatists blaming mainstream politicians for creating an atmosphere that results in the burning of schools offers a tacit justification to the act (though the intent is not to justify, but to condemn). The same way the state government can't make schools as battle-grounds to go high on their performance quotient. If a decision to defer exams will temporarily bring down the level of provocation, why make it a contention? That is a point both may not agree to, but here both have to be on the same page.
School burners are our future-burners, nation-burners. Let this run as a common banner no matter who joins it. Schools are our shared assets, our common capital we need to guard together. Exams delayed or not, tuitions conducted or not, syllabus reduced or not – this all can be recovered and compensated, but what is unrecoverable is an institution we are losing to a violent madness. Let's not hide behind some conventional `handiwork formula' or `conspiracy theory' which has always absolved us of the crimes we have collectively committed. And today if we don't rise against it, we will fall with it.
Education is nobody's fiefdom but everybody's property. Ascribing the crime to some miscreants who are out to `malign' the movement is a hollow, play-safe, half-clear statement which needs some punch, some bones, some clarity to make it more pronounced. It never means we fix blame on one group, but it sure means to disown the doers as criminals and dismiss the act as patently self-destructive. Even if it means going against yourself, do it. That actually is the larger goal against which everything else must appear incomparably small.
Someone defined socialism as a doctrine that believes in the perverse principle of equality. `If we all can't be rich, let's all be poor'. Utterly frustrated, a friend suggested me to use the same logic for school-burning. `If we can't all be literate, let's all be illiterate'. That alone can unite us.