Expressing concern and anguish over the destruction of centres of learning and training in Kashmir, former Union Minister Chaman Lal Gupta felt that all this was being done to drag the younger generation towards the Taliban culture, a path of violence and a great danger to the civilised world.
This, he said, had inflicted serious wounds on humanity in Afghanistan and some other parts of the world and it needed to be dealt with a heavy hand.
Gupta observed that it was a strange struggle (jihad) that educational institutions had been forced to shut and school buildings were being set ablaze.
During the past over three months, about 30 buildings, including some of historic nature, have been burnt and old records ruined. Even the big building of the Entrepreneurship Development Institute at Pampore near Srinagar, where thousands of youth used to get training in various trades and crafts, has been badly damaged in an encounter, he said. All this, he pointed out, clearly indicated the sinister path adopted by the jihadis who were acting on the dictates from across the LoC.
Police’s View Point
The J&K Police have made some arrests but have largely kept silent about the persons behind these incidents. “It is not possible to provide security to all the schools. We are doing investigations. We have made arrests and identified people but we can’t reveal much yet,” said DGP K Rajendra Kumar.
According to SP Vaid, the Director General of Police for law and order said, the solution lies in involving the local community and ensuring that every school gets a guard. This position seems reasonable.
‘Separatists want a New Generation of Uneducated Youth’
Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti alleged that the separatists were not allowing schools in the Valley to function because they wanted a new generation of uneducated youths who can pelt stones and can be used as “cannon fodder”. She added that the separatists were exploiting children from the poor families by instigating them to attack Army camps, Police stations and CRPF camps and were using them as shields, while their own children were safe.
“If the youths get education, they won’t pelt stones for them. The (separatist) leadership want a generation of uneducated youths who can pelt stones for them,” Mehbooba said in a scathing attack on separatists during a passing out parade of Police Officers here.
Stressing that leaders who give preference to the future and education of the children are needed and not the ones who use them as cannon fodder. She said, “For three months our schools are closed. We tried and even Delhi sent big delegations”.
“Our Home Minister (Rajnath Singh) came thrice, our Finance Minister (Arun Jaitley) went there and an all party delegation also went to meet them but they closed doors for them. With the unrest in the Valley continuing for over a hundred days, she alleged that the separatists wanted that the children should get hurt to keep the “pot boiling”.
“They plan to let the children of poor people die. It is a big challenge for us because till now they have handed over the guns to poor children and now they are using them as shields,” she added.
“Amongst all those killed or injured, 99 per cent were small kids. Not even one from the rich family, not a single child of those leaders has been injured, only poor kids!” Mehbooba said.
She said that first the separatists thought that the uneducated youths would pick guns for them, but the youths in the past 25 years have realised that gun will not solve any problem.
“Children are not ready to pick up guns. Now they want a generation of illiterate children who can pelt stones for them, not only pelt the stones but in the process lose their lives,” Mehbooba said.
‘Separatists Out to Destroy Students’ Careers’
Minister for Education, J&K and Senior People Democratic Party (PDP) leader Naeem Akhtar said that the government was only trying to safeguard the career of lakhs of students whereas separatists with their shutdown calls were trying to destroy their academic career.
He also strongly condemned the allegations levelled by Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik, who has indirectly blamed students for burning of schools in Kashmir.
In a statement, Akhtar said, those claiming that the government decision to hold exams had forced students to torch educational institutes should go for self-introspection. At many places, students had been at the forefront of saving the schools and it was out of question that students would take such a reprehensible step.
The minister said, by conducting the examinations, the government was not trying to invent or impose anything new in the academic arena of the state. “We are only trying to safeguard the career of lakhs of students, whereas separatists with their shutdown calls are trying to destroy their academic career,” he said. “They (separatists) started the era of destruction and are now trying to distance themselves from it and finding an escape route,” he added.