Winter break extension for schools in Kashmir seen as Centre's way to thwart campus protests over harassment of students outside Valley

Amid speculations, the extended winter break in Kashmir schools is majorly seen as the government’s way to thwart the possible campus protests over harassments of Kashmiri students outside the Valley and the ban on the Jama’at-e-Islami (JeI)-run Fala-i-aam Trust schools

Sameer Yasir March 04, 2019 15:21:34 IST
Winter break extension for schools in Kashmir seen as Centre's way to thwart campus protests over harassment of students outside Valley
  • Amid speculations, the extended winter break is majorly seen as the government’s way to thwart the possible campus protests over harassments of Kashmiri students outside the Valley

  • Rameez Khan, a doctor and an alumnus of JeI school, said: Apparently the government fears that JeI might mobilise its students to stage a massive protest in Kashmir against the ban and other atrocities

  • The clarification came on Sunday after over 200 alumni of JeI-run schools under Falah-e-Aam Trust, currently studying and working in different countries across the world, came together to ask the government to revoke its orders

The two-month-long winter break has come to an end in Kashmir and the lifeless educational institutions are waiting to come to life as students plan to return to their classes. But this time around, students across the Valley might have to wait a bit more, after government extended the winter break. The decision has already become a new talking point in Kashmir.

The extension has come amid larger events unfolding in the Valley, in the run-up to 2019 Lok Sabha elections. And this is exactly what makes the government order a subject of speculations. “It’s normal March in Kashmir and I don’t see any reason why government should extend a winter break," said a parent, Mir Mustafa in Srinagar. "Given the times we live in, education should be a priority for this government. But then it seems they’ve some other plans."

Amid speculations, the extended winter break is majorly seen as the government’s way to thwart the possible campus protests over harassments of Kashmiri students outside the Valley and the ban on the Jama’at-e-Islami (JeI)-run Fala-i-aam Trust schools.

"Apparently the government fears that JeI might mobilise its students to stage a massive protest in Kashmir against the ban and other atrocities,” says Rameez Khan, a doctor and an alumnus of JeI school. “That’s why the government is still mulling whether they should ban schools or keep it out of it."

Sensing the simmering build-up in the Valley, the advisor to Governor Satya Pal Malik, Khursheed Ganai recently said that the government is still examining the order — whether or not ban JeI-affiliated schools.

The clarification came on Sunday after over 200 alumni of JeI-run schools under Falah-e-Aam Trust, currently studying and working in different countries across the world, came together to ask the government to revoke its orders.

Winter break extension for schools in Kashmir seen as Centres way to thwart campus protests over harassment of students outside Valley

Representational image. Reuters

"We, the alumni of Jama’at-e-Islami run schools known as Falah-e-Aam Trust (FAT) working across the world and in the institutions of State of Jammu and Kashmir are shocked to read the news reports suggesting that the government is imposing ban and closure on the schools run by Falah-e-Aam Trust (FAT)," the alumni said in an open letter to Centre.

Falah-e-Aam Trust (FAT) is non-political in nature and is dedicated to education and service in Jammu and Kashmir, the letter said. "Presently, Falah-E-Aam Trust runs over 350 schools across the state of Jammu and Kashmir, with an enrolment of over 1,00,000 students and 10,000 staff members," it said.

"We have been educated in the schools of Falah-e-Aam Trust and we are witness to its struggle for educating the weaker sections of the society and its efforts to uplift the society in a peaceful and constructive manner. No schools run by FAT have ever taught us to breach the law or engage in anti-social activities. FAT schools have created lakhs of civilized citizens holding almost every office in the J&K State. From legislators to jurists, and from doctors, engineers, teachers, administrative officers to multi-rung office-bearers in the state, FAT has made its students earn influential positions in running the government. FAT-school pass outs have a massive contribution in good governance in Jammu and Kashmir," it added.

In case, the government of the day imposes the ban, the letter further added, it would plainly mean that the current dispensation wants the destruction of the already ailing education system in Kashmir. "The sealing of schools belonging to FAT will jeopardize the career of thousands and render many jobless. It would be a clear message to Kashmir that India cares little about Kashmir’s education and upliftment," it said.

Even as government sources reveal that the regional political parties might be fishing in troubled waters by inciting campuses against the government, many of them have already sought a review on the JeI ban. "While the government may take some time to review the need to ban JeI, there is a need to urgently review the ban on schools and the sealing of mosques," former chief minister Omar Abdullah said.

"Schools with 10’s of 1000’s of students, employing 1,000s of teachers are being sealed," Omar added. "Sealing schools risks forcing so many young kids out on the streets rather than studying to make a future for themselves."

These schools have been providing education to the poorest of the poor and they have been getting positions, PDP chief and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said on Saturday when her party members staged a protest against the ban in Srinagar.

“They are meritorious students. Where will these kids go? The government is playing with their future. This is very bad,” Mehbooba said. But despite clearing air about the ban on JeI-run schools, many believe, that government is possibly extending the winter break to test waters in Kashmir.

“In past, the government had to face the ire of campuses and therefore, given the unfolding polity, in the run-up to upcoming Lok Sabha elections in J&K, the government is taking great precautions,” said Bashir Lone, a commentator based in Srinagar. “But again, they’re repeating the same old mistake in Kashmir, which is bound to breed a sense of alienation.”

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