Srinagar: The government on Wednesday informed the High Court that detailed project reports (DPRs) have been received from the Roads and Buildings (R&B) department, but release of funds is yet to be sanctioned for reconstructing the schools burnt down in 2016.
Hearing a public interest litigation, a division bench of Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey said, “From the said status report, it appears that with regard to most of the schools which were burned down either fully or partially, detailed project reports have been received from the R&B department. However release of funds is yet to be sanctioned. We are informed by the counsel from state that these projects have been taken on priority basis, and all efforts will be made to reconstruct the schools which were gutted down by fire at the earliest.”
The court directed the government to submit an updated status report with regard to the dates on which the DPRs were received and the dates on which they were forwarded to the administrative department.
The court also directed the government to indicate the number of schools where work had started, along with a photograph of the building.
Furthermore, the court sought details about the children who were previously studying in these schools and whether the schools have been properly accommodated or not. The court also directed the government to file a report on the alternative accommodation made for the displaced students and wanted to know whether or not the children were receiving proper education at the temporary schools.
The court also passed direction to the IGP, Kashmir, to file a status report made in the process of investigation and FIRs before the next date of hearing.
On a previous hearing, the court had observed that education is an essential component of human life like water and air. It has directed the state government to take immediate steps for reconstructing the schools that were either burnt down or damaged during last year’s uprising in the Valley.
Nearly three dozen schools were torched or otherwise damaged as per the information the government provided to the high court. As many as 47 persons, including five juveniles, were arrested for their alleged involvement in the arson; among them, 10 have been booked under the Public Safety Act, Kashmir’s IGP informed the court in a status report.
The court asked people to ensure that educational institutions in their areas were protected. The court had shown its deep concern about the burning down of educational institutions in various parts of the Valley, and had issued several directions from time to time to ensure their protection against being vandalised, damaged or burnt down.
“Education is not relevant only for present times but it has been relevant for human beings from the advent of human history. Illiteracy breeds ignorance, and illiterate people are susceptible to all kinds of exploitations. Like water and air, education is an essential component of human life,” the court has observed.
For the moral, spiritual and material development of a human being, the court said, education is of utmost importance.