Girl students complain of coercion on ‘music festival’

  • Many students say teachers are forcing them to dance and sing at the ‘Shashrang’ event; organisers say it is meant to ‘revive culture’

SRINAGAR: Many students of girl’s schools here are expressing resentment at being literally coerced into attending a music festival. “Our conscience doesn’t allow us to sing and dance in front of politicians and bureaucrats.” said a group of students from one such school.
Shashrang, a “Kashmiri Sufi musical festival” organised by the ‘Musical Club Cooperative’ was scheduled to be held on September 12 at the Botanical Gardens, but now the organisers have reportedly shifted the dates to September.
A student of Kothi Bagh higher secondary school said, “My parents are not allowing me to participate in the event because our religion doesn’t allow us to do so. But our teachers are forcing us to join the event. Around 200 girls of our school are supposed to be participating in the musical event, and we are all reluctant to do so.”
“I haven’t yet told my parents that I am participating in a musical festival,” said another student, “my father won’t allow me to go to college then. And here, in college, my resentment has no value because the teachers are compelling us to participate, saying it’s an order from higher authorities.”
On his part, Waheed Jeelani, chairman of the ‘Musical Club Cooperative’ said, “Shashrang is a platform where we introduce our young generation to traditional Kashmiri music. It’s a humble effort to revive our culture, and this year it’s going to be grand. This will be the first time that the performances of participants will be broadcast live on channels like ETV and DD Kashir.”
But a teacher at a higher secondary school had a different take: “This is stereotyping. A majority of the students who are participating are young girls, who are made to entertain bureaucrats. These young girls are not meant to do that.” Said Fatima, a student ‘participant’, “My internal exams of 12th standard are going on, and my golden tests are also scheduled for the same month. And my teachers want me to participate in the event. We already lost a month rehearsing for the Indian Independence Day, and now this musical fest is another distraction. My father wants me to score good marks in exams, not waste time singing in musical events and doing a parade on Indian Independence Day.”
When asked about the reluctance of students to participate in the event, Jeelani said, “We are not forcing children to participate. They should willingly contribute to the event.” Romana Qazi, Principal Kothi Bagh girls higher secondary school — who also holds the additional charge of Amira Kadal girls higher secondary school – said, “The girls have not come to me if they have a problem participating in the event. And politicians are not bad people, they are among us. Also, the girls will get participation certificate which will be of use to them. The time they have spent on rehearsals won’t go unrequited.”
While it is not quite clear how a ‘participation certificate’ will be of use to the students, neither how students who don’t want to dance will benefit from rehearsals, Director Education Shah Faisal and Education Minister Naeem Akhtar were unavailable for comment.

2 Responses to "Girl students complain of coercion on ‘music festival’"

  1. Mohammad Farooq Wani   September 14, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    I want to know the functions of the cultural wing at the DSEK level where some lecturers, masters and teachers have been working in the said wing from the past 14 years. Also some female teachers/ masters who happen to be the spouses of bureaucrats and politicians are also attached in the same wing who enjoy hefty monthly salaries from the department with no work. Will they allow their daughters or sisters to dance before the politicians and Ministers apart from the Principal HSS Kothibagh where Principals are posted selectively by Ministers. How come the Minister Nayeem Akhter in his recent visit to the school ordered removal of the then Principal Kothibagh paving way for Principal Amirakadal to switch over to Kothibagh. If there were complaints against the then Principal Kothibagh, why not an inquiry ordered, why simply transferred or attached. Why HSS Amirakadal has been left headless. Such transfers certainly create doubts and confusion about the safety of girl students reading in such shools. The civil societies must ponder in to see what is behind the curtain, more importantly in HSS Kothibagh. What for the students are pressurized to attend such immoral events. Mr. Waheed Jeelani should desist from such events where girl students are made part of the event/

  2. Adil Rashid Bhatt   September 12, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    This is sheer absurdity on the part of education department. Education was meant to uplift the ethics of the People and simultaneously also to impart basic education that could cater to the needs of a person in his or her future. It is a sacred trust to nurture students and the best thing a teacher can give to the students is best manners. I would like to ask Principal of this school, is she willing herself to participate in any way or dance before unknown men. In Islam a girl is not even allowed to meet a ghair mehram without prior permission of the custodians of girls and vice versa is simar for men. so why to distract ourselves from the right way. ……Would the principal be happy if her own daughter dances or sings before unknown or ghair mehram audience.

    GOI will pump money to lure people and the hypocrites will digest that haraam without any foul smell in a gulp.