Amid continuous protests, education suffers in Kashmir

Srinagar:In the wake of continued student protests across the Kashmir Valley, both mainstream politicians and separatists emphasize the need to allow student activism in colleges and universities in the Valley.While Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq stressed that authorities were not providing students with space for dissent, independent legislator Er Sheikh Abdul Rashid sought immediate restoration of students unions and lifting of ban on formation of new students unions in universities and colleges.
Continuing with their protest, several students sustained injuries after clashes erupted between students of the Government Degree College Kulgam and security forces in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district, May 18. The district administration in Srinagar ordered the suspension of class work at Shri Pratap Higher Secondary School and MP HSS Srinagar on May 19 keeping in view the protests taken out by these students.The student protests in Kashmir are going on since April 15 after at least 50 college students sustained injuries in security force’s action in Pulwama Degree College in south Kashmir. Over 100 students sustained injuries across Kashmir Valley since April 15 in various security forces actions.
The students’ protest is emerging as a new trend across the Kashmir Valley. Even girls are increasingly participating in these protests. The protests are giving a tough time to authorities and they are trying their level best to fix the problem. In the first instance the authorities, as a precautionary measure, suspended the class work in the higher secondary schools where they sense trouble. The state government on May 18 warned students that it would not allow them to sit for their examinations if they do not meet the required attendance criterion.
Almost a week ago, Education Minister Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari urged parents to exert parental control to ensure that students attended classes and didn’t “stray from their academic ambitions”. Earlier, the minister in an attempt to pacify the students had asked them to contact him directly and had provided his contact details in local newspapers. He had assured that he would get all the arrested students released.
Chairing a high-level meeting in the backdrop of student protests, Governor N N Vohra (May 12) had called for “strong counseling” of agitating students to keep them away from “any unhealthy influences that adversely affect their teaching schedules”. The meeting held at Raj Bhawan was attended by Minister for Education Syed Altaf Bukhari and Vice-Chancellors of Valley-based universities.
Taking a dig at police and state authorities, Mirwaiz said here, while addressing a seminar “Constructive society and the role of students” on May 18 in connection with the commemorative programme organized by Anjuman Nusratul Islam in memory of its former president Mirwaiz Molvi Mohammad Farooq and as part of Hafta-e-shahadat, that a direct confrontational approach has been taken against the students as all space for peaceful expression of their political aspirations has been choked. The Hurriyat (M) chairman demanded that students associations be allowed to revive in educational institutions across the Valley and student activism and freedom of expression restored.
Independent legislator Er Rashid, in a meeting attended by cabinet ministers, legislators and top level officers of education department here on May 18 emphasized that the state government must lift the ban on student organizations. He sought unconditional withdrawal of all cases against students.
Interestingly, around 1,000 women will be hired in the state for a police battalion that would primarily deal with incidents like stone pelting in the Valley and other law and order duties. The policewomen will be part of the five India Reserved Battalions (IRBs) that have already been sanctioned by the central government. As many as 140,000 youth in Jammu and Kashmir have applied for 5,000 posts in the five IRBs to be raised in the state and 40 percent of them are reportedly from the Valley. 

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