The unrest in Kashmir Valley seems to be never ending. Ever since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Kashmir is witnessing turbulence in the form of protests and attacks. On Monday, Middle Scool Saderkote was set on fire, becoming the 19th government school in the Valley to be set ablaze. The buildings of three higher secondary schools, eight high schools, seven middle and primary schools, and one Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya school have been damaged. Officials said more than 5,000 students are enrolled in these schools.
While nobody has claimed responsibility for the attack, no arrests have also been made in relation to it. This is not the first time that school buildings have become targets. After militancy began in 1989, hundreds of schools and colleges had been set on fire by unidentified people and were then reconstructed over the years.
Director, Education, Kashmir, Ajaz Ahmad told The Indian Express that he had sought details from district chief education officers and taken up the matter with police. “Seven schools have been gutted completely while 11 have suffered partial damage. We have already increased the number of chowkidars and night watchmen in big schools for security,” Ahmad said.
While six school buildings housing two high schools, one higher secondary school, two middle schools have been set on fire in Kulgam. Three school buildings have been hit in Budgam, two in Bandipore, two in Baramulla, two in Shopian and one each in Kupwara, Anantnag, Ganderbal and Pulwama districts.
Talking about accommodating the students, Chief Education Officer, Kulgam, Rouf Shahmiri said, “once the schools reopen, we will try to accommodate students whose classrooms have been burnt. Construction of new buildings will take time as funds will be needed for reconstruction.”
A senior Education Department officer tasked with investigating the incidents said these had larger implications. “If steps are not taken, the number of schools burnt could go higher. It is meant to deprive poor people of education,” he said. “The government is very concerned and has taken it up at the highest level.”