Forces Occupy More Schools As Govt Blows Exam Bugle

Srinagar: A day after Education Minister, Naeem Akhter directed the authorities to conduct school exams “on time” in restive Kashmir, which is witnessing “worst-ever” humanitarian crises –security forces on Tuesday occupied two more leading schools in the summer capital –raising questions over government strategy to restore normalcy in the trouble-torn Valley.

This afternoon, many were taken by surprise when, all of a sudden a convoy of paramilitary Border Security Force (BSF) vehicles  lined-up on the MA Road only to end up entering into the historic SP High School premises, which was instantly sealed for civilian entry.

A day after re-entering Srinagar for duties after nearly 12 years, the BSF occupied the school near the City center. This is the fifth school recently occupied by the security forces.

Simultaneously, while BSF was taking over possession of the SP School, nearby Kothi Bagh Higher Secondary School for girls was also occupied by the border force.

In the last 45 days of unrest, which claimed 69 lives and left around 10,000 people, mainly youth wounded, earlier three prominent schools were taken over by security forces.

Officials of Education Department said Nawa Kadal Boys Higher Secondary School and the MP Higher Secondary School in congested old City, the Shaher-e-Khaas were the first to be occupied. Subsequently Boys Higher Secondary School Sonawar was also taken over for accommodation of the security forces.

The people of Kashmir have taken a serious note of the developments accusing the ruling coalition of making a mockery of the system.

On August 22, Education Minister directed JK State board of School Education to conduct on time, the exams of the besieged students who have not been to schools for a month-and-a-half of continued curfew.

The government has been saying that people should decide between what they want: “agitation or education?”

But the people this time look unwilling to buy the government terminology. “SP School has been occupied by BSF. Somebody ask Education Minister where shall the students go now. Is Govt planning for exams in graveyard because otherwise also continued curfew has pushed us to starvation?” said Masood Ahmed of Eidgah locality.

The campus occupation has apparently triggered apprehensions among people.

2,600 additional BSF men are being rushed to Kashmir within days. These BSF forces are being drawn from Gujarat, Rajasthan and West Bengal areas.

The BSF men re-entered into summer capital and manned the City since Monday, August 22, after 12 years.

Given the track record of BSF in combating militancy in 1990s, the government was already contemplating to bring back the paramilitary on Kashmir streets.  Kashmir Observer was first to report this in June, 2016.

The BSF had killed 2,800 militants during its 14 years of engagement in counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir. That comprised 100 top commanders, including the prized scalp of Gazi Baba, who was India’s most-wanted militant following the December 13, 2001, attack on the Parliament. The force had arrested 9,400 militants and 10,600 weapons were seized since ‘90s.

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