Govt Forces Continue To Occupy City Schools, Students Aghast

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SRINAGAR: The continuous occupation of dozens of Government schools in Kashmir Valley, including in the Srinagar City, is taking toll on the education of hundreds of students who accuse government of playing with their carrier.

In Srinagar city alone nine high schools remain under occupation of the armed forces who were brought in for the election duty last month.

On Thursday hundreds of students of Govt Middle School, Gagribal staged a protest against the government move to lodge security forces in their school.

“This is very unfortunate that for sending two persons to Parliament government is ruining career of thousands of children”, said Arifa, a protesting student. “On the one hand they are denouncing separatists for calling for strikes while on the other hand they themselves use our schools for the purpose other than education. Who will compensate the loss of these precious days,” she said.

The head of the school, said the forces personnel arrived without any prior intimation and have damaged the furniture and other important items of the school.

“On April 04, when I entered my school, I saw a truck, and some busses inside the lawn loaded with paramilitary forces. Some of them were already inside class rooms,  said Khurshid Ahmad Rather, Headmaster, Govt. Middle School situated in Gagribal, Srinagar.

Khursheed said the officer accompanying the CRPF informed him that “We are here for election duty, and you should handover all the keys of the school”.

Khurshid alleged that forces have damaged and thrown out the furniture to make room for themselves and are in occupation of 11 rooms of the school.

In Srinagar city alone, Government Higher Secondary Schools in Chanpora, Hazratbal, Sonwar, Soura , Zadibal, Government Middle School Gagribal, Government High School Drogjan, National School in Karan Nagar and Govt Girls Higher Secondary School Nishat were taken over by security forces for their accommodation.

 

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“My school is presently looking like a women whose modesty has been outraged”, Khursheed said adding, everything has been vandalised. 

“My school is not anymore in the condition where we can give education to children,” said  Head Master of another city High School wishing anonymity.

Over 54 additional companies of CRPF were brought in for smooth campaigning and poll duty for by-elections to Srinagar and Anantnag constituencies some 15 days back, a police official said.

He said, police also deployed 25 companies of armed police in the two constituencies.

Chief Education Officer, Srinagar Arif Iqbal Malik told Kashmir Observer, “ Yes, it’s taking toll on the education of the children, as over a dozen school buildings are still under occupation of paramilitary forces. I already have taken up the issue with the higher authorities and it’s up to them to think about the children as I am helpless,’’ he said.

While admitting that the school furniture has been damaged by forces he said, “not only class rooms were occupied but computer labs and offices too were taken over for accommodation and forces have damaged the furniture and other essential items of the schools.”

Talking to Kashmir Observer, Minister of Education, Altaf Bukhari said, “We have to accommodate forces in the schools as there is no space available but I have told the heads of those schools who have suffered damage to make an assessment. Government will try to compensate the loss”, he said.

Pertinently most of the polling stations too were located in the school buildings during recent by-polls. Two school buildings were burnt down in Shopian in Pulwama district ahead of polling on April 10.

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