SRINAGAR: Educational institutions that were scheduled to open after two-month long winter break, are shut for the fifth consecutive day as Kashmir remains in the grip of a wave of anger over the latest civilian killings in Shopian.

The J&K government on Wednesday ordered that all the educational institutions that were scheduled to open on Thursday, will remain closed till Saturday in the wake of protests and clashes against Sunday’s violence in Shopian.

The schools and colleges were to resume functioning on Monday following winter vacations but were ordered shut till Wednesday as clashes and protests broke out across many areas of Kashmir against the killing of four civilians in Pahnoo village of Shopian.

The government furthered the vacation yesterday.

“It is tragic but what can we do?” said Aftab Nisar, a businessman whose son studies at a prominent missionary school in Srinagar, “In previous years, we had to keep our children at home due to strike calls by Hurriyat. Now the government is also resorting to same measure.”

While students have been asked to stay home, teachers and other staff have been ordered to remain present in the institutions. A principal of a government-run school in Srinagar said they have been ‘counselled’ by the authorities to ‘ensure’ there are no protests.

“We have been holding meetings with the teachers to ensure that the classwork resumes normally and as soon as possible. After the situation turned violent last year, we have to remain extra cautious to prevent deterioration of situation,” he said, on condition of anonymity.

The school principal said the authorities of J&K’s education department have directed them to ensure that the students do not take law into their own hands, “We can’t take any risk this time around. There is no option but to close down schools in case of trouble,” he said.

The J&K government is also handling the issue carefully to prevent any deterioration in situation, especially at the beginning of this spring season when the snow melts and the Valley of lush-green meadows and pristine water streams prepares for the arrival of tourists.

“There are genuine concerns that the situation may not be conducive for educational institutions to open against the backdrop of (the mayhem in) Shopian. But we are seeing a lot of improvement and hopefully we will be back to normal by Sunday,” a senior minister in J&K government told The Citizen.

Meanwhile, a complete shutdown is being observed in Shopian and its adjoining areas in protests against the four civilian killings which has been mired in controversies.

Family members of the victims have accused the Army of killing their wards in “cold-blood”, a charge denied by the force which has said only an “investigation will determine their level of involvement with militancy”.

Two militants were also killed in Sunday’s shoot-out, the second such incident this year in the restive Shopian district. Earlier in January, three civilians were shot dead in Ganawpora village of Shopian.

(Cover Photo: BASIT ZARGAR)