Government warning to students backfires, protests widen


If the government had thought that its threat to disallow students from writing their examination, should they fall short of required attendance, would have an effect on daily protest, its calculation seems to have gone out the window. There has been no let-up in students protesting on college campuses and after weeks of student demonstrations today students came out in Kupwara to show solidarity with their colleagues in other districts.

In the Kralpora area of Kupwara students came out of their classes in government Higher Secondary School and went into the streets raising pro-freedom and anti-India protests. Soon, the police came to the spot and began using force to disperse them. It enraged the students and they began to protest with more vigor. Some students threw stones at the police and they fired tear-smoke shells that only deepened the student resolve to protest more vigorously.  “Police arrested two boys during the clashes which are yet to be identified,” locals in the area said. Amid the clashes, shopkeepers downed their shutters and traffic was also disrupted for some time in the area.

Interestingly, student protests continue two days after the government warning that no students will be allowed to appear in exams if they fail to register the required attendance. “We have already convened a meeting regarding this issue and decided that no student will be allowed to appear in exams if he fails to have 90 percent attendance,” said G.N. Itoo, the director of School Education, Kashmir.

Many had feared that such threats by the government against the students would only aggravate the matters as students would show resistance to such kind of bullying attitude.  “Instead of issuing an open warning, government should have chalked out measures to reach out to the students and motivate them for resuming their classes in a peaceful manner,” said a principal posted in the Kupwara district who didn’t want to be named in this report.

He said teachers alone can’t tackle the situation and convince the students to focus on their academics. “No doubt government initiated a probe in the Pulwama incident, which actually triggered student protests in Kashmir. But now students are hitting streets and demand release of arrested students from police custody. We can’t assure release of students unless government takes an initiative for it,” he said.

The protest by students have surged in the last nearly month, after fifty students were mercilessly beaten by the government forces inside the college campus of Government Degree College in Pulwama. The government responded by closing down institutions to avoid the student protest. However, the move failed to yield any results.

“Closing down school or a college can’t be a solution to lowering student anger. This can’t be an alternative to restore peace. Government should come up with out of box solution and motivate the students to resume their classes,” said a lecturer posted in the Srinagar district.

Meanwhile, class work in three government educational institutions was suspended on Friday by authorities as a “precautionary measure” to avoid student protests. Class work in SP Higher Secondary Schools (HSS) and MP HSS in Srinagar and Government Degree College Kulgam was suspended as a “precautionary measure” on Friday. Over 150 students sustained injuries including 11 who were hit by pellets during clashes with forces in various parts of Kashmir.

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