Srinagar: While the chief minister and her colleagues in the government have been decrying the uprising in Kashmir because it hampers the education of children, two prominent government schools of Srinagar have been occupied by paramilitary BSF and CRPF troops.
The CRPF is expecting to occupy three more Srinagar schools, including a private school. It has asked the government to accommodate eleven companies comprising 1,100 troopers in Srinagar’s schools. The schools include National School in Karan Nagar, ML Higher Secondary School, Safa Kadal, MP School Khanyar, and government higher secondary school Rajbagh.
The CRPF has prepared a detailed assessment report of each school and has listed defence requirements, which indicates that the troops are planning to stay for a long haul.
In all the schools, they have sought 170 tin sheets, 2,200 sand bags, 2,500 sq ft net, 60 concertina coils, and 1,200 meters of polythene sheet.
Srinagar’s SP higher secondary school has turned into a garrison as dozens of trucks loaded with supplies for the BSF stand lined in the campus. BSF soldiers man the gate and seek identity proofs before allowing anybody inside the campus. The principal of the school said that she had no prior information about the coming of BSF to the school. “Without saying a word they came and occupied the school. We had no information about their deployment. We were stunned to see them here,” she said.
She also said that she had asked the BSF about the duration of their stay as exams were scheduled in the coming days. “We were particularly concerned about the duration of their stay. Sadly, we got no answer. The BSF troops themselves seemed to have no knowledge about the duration of their deployment,” she said.
Inspector KP Singh of BSF who is stationed at the school premises told Kashmir Reader that he had no idea about their deployment, let alone the duration of their stay. “We were busy with Amarnath Yatra, and were ordered to be deployed in Srinagar. We just have to follow orders; the decisions are taken by the authorities,” he said.
A school official told Kashmir Reader that the deployment of BSF had created fear among the school staff. The BSF’s presence brought back memories of the 1990s when Indian soldiers occupied more than 140 schools in the Valley.
“They can occupy any place without needing your consent. Can you question them if they occupy your house? They are just beasts,” the official said.
Similar was the scene at another higher secondary school of Srinagar, the MP school, within which paramilitary forces were constructing a bunker. Locals living around the school said the presence of troops will create problems for them. “They have already started harassing the locals. Since the day they arrived here, they are hurling stones with catapults at passersby,” said a local, Fayaz Ahmad.
Another local, an octogenarian, lambasted the government and called ministers liars. “On the one hand they ask parents to send their kids to school, and on the other hand they build bunkers inside schools. What sort of people they are?” he said.
The elderly man said that the government was hell-bent on terrorising common people to suppress the uprising. “After every means of suppressing the movement has failed, now they are employing the means they employed in the 90s. Occupying school buildings is one such means,” he said.