Managements blame police of forcing lockdown amid student protests, Association threatens pan Kashmir lockdown
Sopore: Police have closed down all coaching centres in the town over the alleged involvement of students in protests. These private tuition centres have remained shut since May 12, when police ordered their managements to suspended classes amid intense student protests.
The town has thirteen coaching centres where close to three thousand students come for tuition during morning or after school hours. As educational institutions are shut due to the threat of student protests, coaching centres emerge as the best possible alternative for students to pursue their studies. However, shutting down of these centres is seen as a direct attack on the future of the students.
Sameer Ahmad Dar is the chairman of one of these coaching centres, the Institute of Systematic Studies. He told Kashmir Reader that police ordered them to shut down a month ago. “On 12th of May,” he says, “we were called to Sopore police station, where we were told verbally to ‘close down your coaching centres’“. Police argued that the students attending these centres “are organizing protests in the area and creating law and order problems”.
But the managements of these tuition centres argue that police suspicion was misplaced. “Our students,” Dar said, “have no role in protests.” They argue that classes at the coaching centres were held in the afternoons or early mornings, whereas the protests were held during working hours of government educational institutions.
The managements say they have been continuously requesting the Sopore police to let them restart classes, but they show their inability to allow them. Dar says that they contacted the Sopore’s Superintendent of Police, Harmeet Singh. “He said that your coaching centres have no registration,” Dar said.
Lateef Ahmad Masoodi, who owns the Sharp Career Institute of Sopore, says that the SSP has asked the managements to produce registration certificates for coaching centres before they could be allowed to open.
But the registration, he says, is under process in the education department. “Hundreds of coaching centres throughout Kashmir are operating without registration certificates. The education department is holding back registrations despite inspections carried out by the department.”
Singh, the SSP, told Kashmir Reader that police has shut down the unregistered tuition centres while the rest “are now resuming their classes”.
Singh was the only official who responded to queries regarding the issue. The development commissioner of Baramulla district, Nasir Ahmad Naqash, hung up the phone as this correspondent mentioned the issue of coaching centres in Sopore.The director school education, G N Yatoo, switched his phone off after asking to be contacted in half an hour.
The issue attains sensitivity with respect to the wide-spread student protests that have taken place in Kashmir over the past six weeks. The managements of coaching centres, however, argue that their institutions have no role in the protests.
“Student protests erupts in colleges and higher secondary schools and not from the coaching centres, which mostly work in afternoons. If all the coaching centres in Kashmir are working routinely, why they have just shut down the coaching centres in Sopore town,” Dar questions.
The shutdown is now making parents anxious. Masoodi says that parents continuously contact them and express their anger. “They have submitted tuition fees but due to the closure, sixty percent of the syllabus is incomplete,” he says. “We tell them what Sopore police tells us.”
The Coaching Centres Association of Kashmir has decided to close all coaching centres in the valley in protest. G N Var, the association’s president, says that police interference into the management of coaching centres was “undue”. “We will take up this matter with the director general of police, and if they fail to provide a solution to this problem, we will lock down all the coaching centres of Kashmir,” Var said.
Var believes that Sopore police was finding “excuses to harass and destroy the future of students in Sopore town.” He says that the query about registration certificates goes back to the working of the education department who are at “fault” for leaving “this process lingering”.
To the question of police’s ‘interference’ in the matters of education, Singh said, “We didn’t order coaching centres to suspend their classes. It was only when the unregistered coaching centres came to know that we have orders to check their registration certificates that they decided to shut down their coaching centres.”