Editorial: Torched schools

2016 was a year of loss for the entire Kashmir Valley. Not only did the economy of the state go for a big hit, but the education sector too has to face severe loses on two fronts.

One, the students had to miss out an entire session to strikes and protests and two the infrastructure of schools had to bear the brunt as nearly 40 schools were torched by miscreants during the unrest period.

However, all these developments get complicated further as the state government too seems to be acting strangely. In a recently announced move, the J&K government sanctioned an amount of Rs 2.75 crore to Waqf Board for reconstruction of school building torched during summer agitation of 2016 in Kashmir, but strangely enough the work on restoration of other government schools has been shelved.

Officials in the school education claimed that the funds have been released to Waqf Board to carryout reconstruction of Islamia Hanfia Higher Secondary School, Anantnag as a “special case” committed by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti last year.

But the authorities did not lay out any plan to initiate restoration work in the rest of the 32 schools that were torched by arsonist during summer agitation. All this is happening despite the fact that nearly eight months have elapsed since the schools were damaged in various incidents of arson.

Interestingly, the Directorate of School Education Kashmir (DSEK) has prepared a Detailed Project Report (DPR) worth Rs 8 crore and submitted to the administrative department for release of funds, however no amount has been released so far.

The release of funds is subject to the fulfilment of all codal formalities while incurring expenditure and the funds shall be utilised strictly for the purpose these will be released.

Importantly, no fewer than 40 school structures were torched by the unruly mobs during the Valley unrest last summer.

Now hopes are being pinned on the High Court. The court has taken a different and perhaps pragmatic view of the case. It is of firm opinion that the Government has the duty and responsibility of rebuilding these schools without a day’s loss and ensures that school going children do not suffer in their educational career. This is a very pragmatic view of the case.

The Court has taken up suo moto case because it has apprehensions that the Government would go on snail’s pace to rebuild the structures. That means tremendous loss to the students and the education sector in general.

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