SRINAGAR: With unknown persons setting on fire at least 27 schools during the over three month long unrest in the Valley, Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Monday took suo-motto cognizance of the torching of the schools and directed the government to take necessary measures for safety of the educational institutions.
After eruption of unrest in the Valley following killing of 21-year-old Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8, unknown persons have torched at least 27 schools in the Valley. Two of the schools were set on fire on Sunday.
Of the 27 schools torched, seven were set on fire in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district, four each in Anantnag and Budgam, three in Baramulla, two each in Bandipora, Shopian and Ganderbal and one each in Pulwama, Kupwara and Srinagar districts.
14 schools have been burnt in four districts of South Kashmir, which is the epi-centre of the ongoing unrest in the Valley. Among the burnt schools is 113-year-old Islamia Hanfia School at Lal Chowk, Anantnag, which was set on fire on September 19.
The J&K High Court today took suo-motto cognizance of the torching of the schools in the Valley.
A division bench of the High Court comprising Justice Muhammad Yaqoob Mir and Justice Ali Mohammad Magray said the burning of schools was shocking and everybody should wake-up to the grave issue.
“It is the collective responsibility of all of us to save the school buildings. By burning a school building, unknown person is darkening the educational atmosphere. All concerned in their respective levels and the authorities of the government in particular shall immediately take necessary measures to protect the school buildings,” the court said.
The bench directed the J&K Chief Secretary, J&K Director General of Police and Director School Education of Kashmir to issue necessary instructions to Deputy Commissioners, SSPs and Chief Education Officers (CEOs) to take all necessary protective measures for saving the school buildings from being burnt by mysterious enemies of the education.
“The mysterious enemies of education should be unmasked and dealt with iron hand,” the court said and directed the government to file comprehensive and consolidated compliance report by or before November 7.
All educational institutions including schools, colleges and Kashmir University have remained closed since July 9, when the unrest broke in Valley a day after killing of Burhan Wani.
Meanwhile, Hizbul Mujahideen supreme commander and chief of Muzaffarabad-based United Jehad Council (UJC) Syed Salah-ud-Din today in a statement expressed concern over burning of schools in the Valley.
He blamed Indian agencies and their agents of torching the educational institutions in the Valley. “Torching schools is an evil ploy of the India to ensure that Kashmiris are deprived of education”.
The Hizb chief appealed people to protect schools and expose the persons involved in burning of schools.
The separatists groups including hardliner Syed Ali Geelani, traders and civil society members have strongly condemned the burning of the schools.
J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had recently blamed separatists for using children as cannon fodder by not allowing schools to function in the Valley.
“Since last three months, schools are closed in Valley. The government tried to open schools and even a delegation from civil society led by Yashwant Sinha went to meet them (separatists) and requested them that the future of children was getting spoiled and for God's sake help to let the schools open and the reply came in the form of burning of two schools," she had said.