Following massive protest and the on-going unrest in Kashmir, after the execution of the Hizbul Majahideen militant Burhan Wani on July 8, schools in the valley had been badly affected. And with recent incidents of burning schools, teachers across Kashmir had been instructed to guard their schools, in turns, even at night.
Since the unrest began in Kashmir and as it continues for more than 100 days, at least 29 schools in the valley had been put on flames. With orders of protecting their own schools spreading in the valley, holding teachers responsible for their schools, a signboard outside a headmaster’s room in a school in Rafiabad, Baramulla, read, ‘Headmaster cum Chowkidar’.
The Chief Education Officer (CEO) of Srinagar, Arif Iqbal Malik, recently issued a directive, saying, “mandatory instruction with regard to protection of schools” is “in response to a high-level meeting chaired by Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Baseer Khan”.
Malik’s directive, issued on November 1, to 1015 schools in the valley, also mentions, “chowkidars are present round-the-clock and in case no chowkidar is available, the job of the same must be assigned to other staff members of the institution to ensure 100% security of the schools.”
With less than 20 percent schools having a chowkidar, teachers expressed dissappointment stating that even women teachers haven’t been exempted and had been directed to send male relatives to gaurd the schools during night, if not possible for them to personally come.
However, the Jammu and Kashmir Education minister Naeem Akhtar had denied the issue of any such order but remained doubtful on whether it might have been done in local levels. Malik had also denied of issuing any such order to women teachers.
Citing the role of policemen responsibility to guard the schools, teachers in the valley questioned the government on entrusting the schools’ security to the teachers instead of armed policemen.