An open letter to Director School Education Kashmir

Dear Mir Tariq Ali,

With humble submission, I hereby want to bring to your kind notice that when the rain that later on devastated Kashmir started falling on September 03, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Mr. Rohit Kansal ordered the closure of all the schools in the valley. The decision made by him later on saved the thousands of students of the Valley from facing the adverse climatic conditions. Humbly, I want to ask that wasn’t this something (the decision to keep the schools closed) that should have been done by the Director School Education Kashmir. Mr. Kansal isn’t from valley but you are a local, therefore, you ought to be more conversant with the topography of the Valley. Perhaps the case with the administration of the DSEK is different and while the department failed to reach a final decision about the closure of schools, despite repeated warnings from Weather Forecast Department, it was the Div Com who took the shot.

It seems that you took the warnings lightly, risking the lives of the students life due to your indecisiveness. It may be harsh but I have the right to say that it is very painful and unacceptable in any civilized society.

Nonetheless our children were saved by that timely decision taken by Mr. Kansal.

Moving on, when the flood waters receded, rather than expressing your concern over the hundreds of schools damaged across the valley, your first statement, published in one of the English Dailies, was about inquiry files and service records of the employees that were washed away in the floods.

Whereas there are thousands of files being maintained by DSEK which concern the up gradation the education sector in the valley, you chose to single out specific files. It somewhat creates doubts in the minds of the people.

I, as a lay person, am well aware of the fact that that the records were being maintained in the first floor of the building, including service records and other important files. Whereas the flood water did not touch more than two feet of first floor of the building but declaring that all records have been washed away in the floods seems to be hurriedly made assertion. The statement so issued has created confusion and is worrisome for the people who are directly or indirectly associated with the department.

As of now, you are anxious to reopen the schools ignoring the health related issues and fear of other infectious diseases that can transmit to the students.

Also you seem to be ignoring that thousands of students have lost their books and uniforms in the floods and in absence of the books their schooling becomes futile.

As per latest news report, you are yet to shift to your official residence for want of fool-proof cleanliness, which is a good step in view of health related issues and possible infection. It seems imperative here to ask that if you are so cautious of your own health, what about the lakhs of young students?

You are well aware that most of the schools of valley are still in a shabby condition, aren’t you?

God forbid, what if a school building collapses when students are in their classrooms? Who will be responsible for that and who is to blame then? It certainly will be a risky affair if you allow the schools to operate in present circumstances.

My suggestion will be that until you receive a credible report about the safety of students within these schools, don’t allow anyone to operate.

Education has to be prioritized but that should not at the cost of students’ lives.

You must think beyond some prominent schools which are centrally located and have resources to rebuild, think of thousands of those schools in the rural areas, downtown of Srinagar and other flood affected areas that will need time to ensure the buildings that shelter their students are safe to operate from.

The opening of schools should never be politicized or to gain popularity.

Now therefore, it is requested that the DSE should thoroughly consider all pros and cons of the volatile situation and should prioritize that the safety of the students before taking any decision.

Your’s sincerely

Mohammad Farooq Wani