With educational activities in Kashmir picking up after remaining suspended for over four months due to the unrest, private schools in the Valley are following separatist-issued ‘protest calendar’ by remaining open only during the relaxation period over the weekend.
Students are happy to resume their class-work, which was affected by the continuous shutdown following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8. The schools went on a two-week summer holiday on July 1 but could not resume functioning due to the unrest.
The separatists, spearheading the agitation since Wani’s killing, have been issuing weekly protest programmes against the civilian killings in the unrest and in support of their demand for right to self-determination.
They have also announced periodic 15-hour relaxation in the strike on few days of the week, with two full days of relaxation on Saturdays and Sundays.
Since the November 16 announcement of weekend relaxation by the separatists, private schools in the Valley decided to resume class-work on these two days, as education in Kashmir was hit hard by the unrest, with schools and colleges, including government-run institutions, remaining closed for over four months with no or minimal activity.
“It feels good to be back at school. I was getting tired sitting idle at home without any class-work or studies. It has affected us but we should remain focused now,” Zia-ul-Islam, a student at a private school here, said.
Kashmir remains abuzz with activity on the weekends as shops, business establishments and fuel stations open in the early hours while public transport plies on all roads from the morning on these two days. Most of the private educational institutions have also been functioning over the weekend since the announcement of relaxation in the strike, though government-run schools have not followed the separatists’ announcements.
Private Schools Association of Kashmir (PSAK) has asked the schools to ensure 100 per cent attendance of students and teachers during the relaxation period.
“Students are going through a hard phase. We have decided to help them in every possible way. Our entire staff will work overtime during the relaxation period to help the students,” PSAK chairman G N Var said. He said the association would ensure that schools remain open on Saturdays as well as Sundays. There is no hesitation among the parents as well to send their children to schools on the weekend.
“As the schools remain open only on weekends, I do not see any reason not to send my children to their schools. Saturday and Sunday are full relaxation days. Public transport remains available, private cars can ply without any fear of stone-pelting, so students can reach their school without any hassles,” Javaid Ahmad, a resident of old city, said.
“There are still some problems in sending children to schools on weekdays. There is no transport, less activity in markets, chances of tension on the roads, so as a parent, I hesitate in sending my children to school on non-relaxation days,” he added.
However, government-run schools do not follow the separatist announcements. While teachers remain present in their respective schools on the weekdays, students do not attend the institutions. The government-run schools are closed on Sundays.
The educational activity in the Valley is limping back to normal after the government started conducting the annual board examinations. The examinations for Class 12 began on November 14, while those of Class 10 started a day later.
Till then, since July 1, there was no education-related activity in the Valley schools. As many as 86 people, including two cops, have been killed and several thousand others injured in the clashes between protesters and security forces in the Valley in the urest triggered by Wani’s killing. Around 5,000 security forces personnel have also been injured in those clashes.