SHOPIAN: A government primary school in Batpora area of main Shopian town has been occupied by paramilitary forces since 2002, its students forced to take their classes under open sky in a nearby high school.
About 61 students and four teachers of the primary school conduct all school activities in an open space of a government high school situated some 500 meters away.
In 2002, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) established a camp near the school. A lady teacher thought it risky to operate the school in such circumstances and went to higher officials to have the camp removed. After several pleas, the officials told her to operate from a nearby high school where one room was provided for the purpose.
With the primary school building lying vacant, the CRPF occupied it and laid concertina wires around it. This continues to this day and no one in the government has bothered to get the camp removed.
School authorities said that they several times went to the CRPF camp and asked them to vacate the school building. “They didn’t listen to us and said that they had two battalions staying in the school building. One officer said that they can’t move ‘an inch’ till orders from the high command,” a teacher deputed at the primary school said.
Another teacher said that the primary school’s records were still lying there and the CPRF was not allowing them to take those official records.
The classes for the primary students are being conducted under the open sky in the high school premises. In times of inclement weather, no classes are held.
Officials in the education department told Kashmir Reader that the Shopian district administration has provided a list to the government saying that no school in the district is under occupation of government forces.
Chief Education Officer Shopian, Mohammad Sadiq Chichi, told Kashmir Reader that nobody had brought this issue to his notice. “Today I talked to the staff of this school and came to know that the CRPF have used our school building as ammunition stores. I will take up this issue with the District Commissioner Shopian and the forces will be vacated from the buildings,” he said.
He added, however, that the CRPF had not occupied the school buildings but only constructed a separate building on a path leading to the school.
Deputy Commissioner Shopian Owais Ahmad said he will look into the matter. “It was not in my notice. I will look into this and the issue will be solved very soon,” he said.
Srinagar-based spokesman of CRPF, Rajesh Yadav, told Kashmir Reader that he has no information about this school. “Contact the local commander, I have no information about this,” he said.