Kashmir Schools remain shut, Students continue to suffer

Written by Pranita Kulkarni | Published on: October 29, 2016
With the unrest in the Kashmir valley refusing to die down, and curfew affects free movement, economic and social activity, it is the young, students from the Valley, who continue to bear the brunt.  Over three months down since the current round of conflict erupted, they suffer academically as well as emotionally with a majority of the schools remaining shut. 

Kashmir schools
Representational picture, Image credit: India Ink
Although the curfew – that was imposed in the valley on August 13 following the killing of militant Burhan Wani, has been lifted from Srinagar and rest of the Kashmir, there is no sign of life in the valley returning to relative normalcy in near future.  The schools that have been shut since their summer break in July are not likely to reopen or resume functioning any soon. 
In the last three and a half months, at least 20 schools have been burnt down, coaching centres have been targeted with stone-pelting and the Hurriyat Conference has refused to exempt schools from its protest calendar. 
A Hindustan Times report elaborated on this aspect of the crisis, claiming that at least one school in all the 10 districts of Kashmir was burnt and eight of the total 20 have been reduced to ashes. Police have managed to arrest none of the ‘miscreants’ in these cases and it has become extremely difficult to run the schools in the valley.
A senior retired official from the education department of Jammu and Kashmir state government told SabrangIndia, “This place is filled with so much uncertainty. The situation is extremely serious and it’s difficult to ensure safety of the students. To gradually move towards normalcy and regular functioning of the schools, first confidence has to be built. Many children have got injured and have suffered from the violence, and their parents won’t be willing to risk their lives by sending them to the schools.” 
He asserted that the schools won’t be reopened until the trust deficit is filled, among the people, but most importantly between the people of Kashmir, its state government and the government of India. It has also been reported that some of the parents from the valley have sent their children to Jammu or Delhi so that their schooling doesn’t get obstructed because of the unrest. “How many people can afford to that? Very few. Their number must be in the range of 0.0 –something. Kids of the rest of the people are all just sitting and home and are not studying,” he claimed. “Even the administrations of the private schools are not willing to take that risk. A meeting was conducted when they were asked to resume the schools, they asked us to communicate with Hurriyat, ensure safety of the students, then only they will consider reopening the schools,” he added.
Another retired bureaucrat from the valley told SabrangIndia, “Hurriyat first wants the release of hundreds of arrested students, as a pre-condition to the schools being re-opened. Only after there can be any talk of reopening the schools.”  SabrangIndia had earlier reported that there have been an inordinate number of arrests by the police and para-military in the state.
However, according to the news reports, exams for the students of Delhi Public School were conducted last week, following the state government’s decision to announce exams in a bid to get kids back to the school. The Indian Express had reported that even though the Hurriyat Conference leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani has called for total shutdown of the schools, his grandchild was one of the students, who appeared for the exams conducted.