SRINAGAR: On last Saturday, Kashmir observed shutdown against braid-chopping over pro-freedom groups’ call. A group of youth attacked a girls’ higher secondary school in Soura that was functioning normally. The school’s principal was seriously injured after being hit by a stone.
The incident has, however, raised serious questions over the functioning of schools on days when there were maximum chances of protests.
The stone-throwers that attacked the school were angry at the school’s functioning when the entire Valley was shut on the Hurriyat call, said the staffers.
“They didn’t say much but showered innumerable stones at the school building; many of them fell inside classes and staff rooms. Our principal was on the veranda, supervising the examination process when a stone hit her,” a woman staffer at the higher secondary told Kashmir Reader.
The principal was rushed to hospital and has not been able to return to school ever since.
Manzoor Ahmad, who works with the education department, says that students and teachers are always at risk once higher authorities tell them to report to school on shutdown days.
“We want maximum academic days to complete the syllabus but not at the cost of our life. The normal functioning of schools during strike calls agitates the miscreants even more, and they resort to stone pelting at educational institutions to force closure,” he said.
Teachers who spoke to Kashmir Reader on the issue alleged that the administration is deliberately seeking to keep educational institutions open during strike days to give a “feeling of normalcy” and to “use it as an antidote to the unrest” in Kashmir.
“It is probably the first time since last year that educational institutions are pressurised to work as normal even during days when Kashmir observes a general strike, seemingly so as to give an impression of normalcy in the Valley,” they said.
Director school education, Kashmir, GN Itoo told Kashmir Reader that they are not forcing educational institutions to function as normal during strikes, and academic activities remain disrupted on these days, except in exceptional cases.
“The decision to keep any institution open on these days is taken by everyone on the board. The state’s Chief Education Officers have been directed to review security measures before asking school authorities to work normally on strike days,” he said.
Terming the Soura incident as unfortunate, he said that there was some miscommunication between the school authorities and the higher officials. “I have now given a clear instruction to all institutions not to risk their lives and make proper security arrangements if there is some important work to be done,” he said.