Unknown arsonists on October 30 set ablaze a government school in Anantnag district, pushing the number of educational institutes gutted in mysterious fires to 25 during the ongoing unrest.
Locals detected the fire in the central government-run Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya in Aishmuqam of Anantnag district and it was quickly extinguished without causing major damage to the building.
Authorities are calling it a planned conspiracy. The 25 government-run schools are comprised of middle, high and higher secondary schools. Of these, seven were reduced to ashes while the rest were damaged partially in the fire.
Besides these 25 government schools, two prominent private schools have also been damaged in the fire.
There has been no class work in any school in the valley in the last 113 days of turmoil following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani. The protests afterwards have left at least 92 persons dead and thousands injured.
111 days of no schools & now 20 schools gutted in recent days. Education should be conflict-neutral for all kids not just the lucky few!!! https://t.co/N3740pokYV
— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) October 28, 2016
The continued closure of schools has been worrying parents, especially of children studying at the 10+2 level, whose final exams were to be conducted in October-November.
Of the 10 districts of the Valley, Kulgam in South Kashmir has been the worst affected with five schools either completely burnt or partially damaged in fires. Three schools have been burnt in central Kashmir’s Budgam district.
On their part, the police said that they were trying to identify the “miscreants”. State’s director general of police, K. Rajendra Kumar said there were thousands of schools, so locals also have to take responsibility of protecting these institutions. He said the burning of schools jeopardizes the careers of hundreds of students.
The government is locked in a tug of war with separatist leaders who have been spearheading the unending series of protests and shutdown in the valley.
According to separatists, allowing children to attend schools in the times of turmoil would be risking their lives. However, they have distanced themselves from the acts of arson targeting schools.
The state government has vowed to have exams of all classes conducted by end November even if schools don’t open by then.