SRINAGAR: In an attempt to control the spiraling student protests against the brutal rape and murder of an eight year old girl from Kathua, the Jammu and Kashmir government today ordered all the private tuition centres in the Valley to shut down for three months.

Sources said the decision was taken by the J&K's education minister Altaf Bukhari during a meeting of top officers of the education department which was convened to review the situation in educational institutions against the backdrop of the Kathua tragedy.

“The minister has ordered that all private tuition centres shall remain closed for a period of 90 days. It has been conveyed to the owners of these tuition centres and failure in compliance with attract penalty including deregistration and fine,” a top officer of the education department, who attended the meeting, said.

Sources said the minister also asked the education department in the Valley to collect details about the private tuition centres running in the valley and the teachers who work there. This, sources said, has been done to verify whether they have sought permission to engage in “private practice”.

“There are also apprehensions that some teachers are provoking the students to stage protests or they may be themselves indulging in these activities which have derailed the education system. We will take strict action against the offenders,” the officer said.

The announcement to shut down private tuition centres comes in the backdrop of spiraling student protests against the Kathua tragedy which forced the state government to close down dozens of schools and colleges in the valley last week to prevent the situation from going out of control.

Bukhari had earlier asked the students to resume classwork and stop indulging in “rowdy” acts since the state government had already arrested all the eight accused in the gang-rape and murder of Asifa, the nomadic girl from Kathua, which sparked global outrage.

The education minister was joined by senior PDP leader and public works minister, Naeem Akhtar, who also appealed the students to resume classes and stop protesting, saying such acts “hurt the image and interests” of Jammu and Kashmir state.

“What is there to protest about? Shouldn't they be attending classes instead. Case is solved, charge sheet filed, accused in custody, trial on. Those who still pelt stones in name of the poor girl of Kathua are only hurting the image and interests of the state,” he said on Twitter.

The issue has divided the state of Jammu and Kashmir along communal lines with shady groups backed by Hindu right-wing groups staging protests in Jammu region demanding a CBI probe into the case and unconditional release of all the eight suspects arrested by the crime branch of J&K Police which is investigating the case.