Children becoming political scapegoats for R-Day functions

Children becoming political scapegoats for R-Day functions
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School admins caught between govt and militant diktats

Anantnag: The students and school administrations, here in South Kashmir, have been caught between the devil and the deep sea with diktats from government and the militants-the former ordering presence at Republic Day functions and the latter warning against such an action.
While the government is trying to ensure attendance in R-Day events, the militants want students-particularly the girls-to stay away from such events.
Some schools in Anantnag district of south Kashmir have alleged that the district administration has threatened to seal their schools and cancel their government recognition, after the school administration’s refused to bring their students to the Republic Day function.
The people in the administration of one such school told Kashmir Reader that their school children have been participating in such functions for the last five years, “but not this year,”
“The reason being, no parent is ready to send his/her child to the function as they fear for the safety of their children and rightly so. We cannot force any parent,” the school authorities said.
They added that they have refused to take part in the function and left the ball in the government’s court.
“Let us see what happens now,” they said, “But we cannot risk forcing students to the event. What if something happens to some kid? How are we going to face his parents?”
Sources said that parts of some private schools were also sealed on Wednesday following their refusal to turn up at the function.
Deputy Commissioner (DC) Anantnag, Mohammad Younis Malik, refuted these allegations though and said that around 17 schools were participating in the R-Day function.
“Nobody is forcing any one. A few of the private schools had been sent prior roster prepared by the CEO but they did not turn up for the rehearsal,” Malik said.
He said that a meeting was called to know the reasons for their not turning up at the rehearsals.
“The stories of threatening them and sealing portions of schools are being concocted by a few of them. There is no truth in this,” he said.
While these private school administrations might be conceded to the concerns of parents the students of an army run school in Khundru area of Anantnag district have been left with no choice.
A circular issue by the administration of Army Proud Scholars School, Khundru has warned parents that their wards will be struck off from the school rolls.
“No discharge certificate will be issued if applied for the same,” the circular, a copy of which lies with Kashmir Reader, reads.
Worried parents lament that their children were being used as political pawns.
“What if God forbid an attack takes place. Is an event more precious than the lives of our children? And why in the first place are we being forced to send our children to such events?” some parents Kashmir Reader talked to, said.
Principal of the school, Peer Naseer Ahmad, however refuted that any such letter has been sent to the parents.
“The students are participating willingly and there is no pressure from our side. I have not issued any such letter,” Ahmad told Kashmir Reader.
Adding to the woes of parents and children as well as the school authorities, militants on the other hand have also cautioned students against attending these events.
The militants had on Tuesday night barged into the house of a Government School Principal in Pulwama, and made him apologize on camera for “forcing” girl students to participate in such functions.
“We have our men in the police who will identify the girls and inform us about them. We will kill them and burn down their houses,” the militants can be heard saying, in a video released over the social media.
The school principal can be seen assuring the militants that he will appeal the students no to venture into these events.
The government on the other hand seems to have no answers to the dilemma of these schools and their students.
Minister of State for Education, Priya Sethi, told Kashmir Reader that it was a national festival and everybody should come out and celebrate it with vigor.
“Moreover it’s a celebration of our rights, our right to speech and right to movement. How can anybody curtail our right to movement?” Sethi asked.
When asked about the right of people to not attend such functions, Sethi did not answer.