JEHANGIR ALI | 30 OCTOBER, 2016
Schools on Fire: Arsonists Target GenNext in Kashmir
SRINAGAR: Despite appeals by both separatists and mainstream political parties, there has been no let up in attacks on educational institutions in Kashmir Valley with unidentified arsonists trying to burn down a school in Anantnag district Sunday morning.
Police sources and residents told The Citizen that a fire was detected in the premises of the Jawaharlal Nehru Vidyalaya school in Aishmuqam village of south Kashmir Sunday morning.
"Alert residents rushed to the building with water and also informed the local fire service unit which prevented major damage to the building. The fire had started in the school principal’s chamber but it was immediately brought under control," a police officer said.
Last night, unidentified miscreants torched a government-run High School in Mirama village of south Kashmir's Kulgam district. According to police sources, the school was completely destroyed in the blaze, apparently sparked by a petrol bomb.
Since the civil uprising erupted in Kashmir following the killing of Hizb commander Burhan Wani on July 8, nearly 26 schools have been targeted by unidentified arsonists with at least eight schools, majority of them government-run, suffering irreparable damage.
The attacks have spiked after the state government decided to go ahead with the Class 10 and Class 12 Board exams, scheduled next month, despite calls by students, parents and civil society, for delaying them due to the ongoing agitation.
In a veiled attack on Kashmir's separatist leadership, who have refused to call off the agitation, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti yesterday said they “don’t want children to get education and are using them as cannon fodder to violence.”
"Tall leaders in Kashmir think if schools will open, the poor children might not get time for stone-pelting or may lose interest in stone-pelting. There is not even a single leader who can sacrifice himself for the future of youth of this state or pull this state out of crisis,” she said.
Earlier, the Hurriyat distanced itself from the acts of arsonists, saying that those burning down schools in Kashmir can't be termed as "well-wishers of the movement".
"Those involved in such acts can never be the well wishers of the society not to talk of the movement and these acts are purposely used to malign the movement as authorities and the puppet regime has miserably failed after using every tool in their armory to curb this movement," Syed Ali Geelani said in a statement.
However, despite appeals of calm, the educational institutions continue to come under attack across Kashmir with even police and security agencies unable to put an end to the spontaneous crisis.