Torched school buildings

The year 2016 was too bad and distressful owing to large scale disturbances in the Valley and especially in South Kashmir districts. It has to be reminded that in reaction to the killing of the militant leader Burhan, the separatist leaders in Srinagar had given a call for total strike in the Valley. The consequence of this call was not only that life was paralysed for several months, but also the worst was that these calls were followed by acts of vandalism, arson and bank loots, against which the separatist leaders never raised their voice. This proved to the world that in Kashmir there was Theo-fascism naked and blatant and not the so-called freedom movement. Naturally, the entire world not only turned Nelson’s eye to their movement but categorized it as unbridled terrorism sponsored from outside and embraced by some of the locals. Interestingly, by issuing calls like these the Kashmiri separatist leaders added to the defamation of Pakistan as the cradle of international terror.
Around three dozen school buildings in the Valley mostly in South Kashmir, were set ablaze by arsonists under a meticulously drawn plan. This affected more than 5,000 students who were receiving education in these institutions. They had to be readjusted in other schools but at much inconvenience to them and to their parents. The Government announced rebuilding of gutted schools. The Court also impressed upon the Government to lose no time in their reconstruction. The Department of School Education galvanized its resources including those available at district administration level and managed to rebuild and restart class work.
But the fate of 18 destroyed schools remained hanging in balance. More than a year and half have gone by and there is no moment at the level of Government to redeem its commitment. The Education Department submitted the DPR for the reconstruction of these structures with a cost estimate of about seven crore rupees. The Government is not taking any decision and the students of these schools are put to untold difficulty and suffering especially in cold and chilly weather. Though the total losses suffered are to the tune of many crore rupees which may take long time to replenish. Libraries, laboratories, furniture, furnishing, equipment, sports articles, stationery and so many other items will not be replenished that soon and what the school staff wants is that at a place where the students and staff would sit and carry the daily work of imparting teaching should be made available to them. It is the Planning Department that has to give a signal for approval of funds needed for reconstruction of this structure. Amusingly, the Chief Minister happens to be holding the charge of the Planning Department. It should have been possible for the Department to obtain CM’s concurrence for allocation of funds for this item but apparently nobody in the Planning Department seems to be very curious and pertinent in mitigating the suffering of the boys and girls who are suffering for want of decent accommodation in schools.
However, a senior functionary in the School Education Department has stated that the Planning Department had recently cleared the allocation of funds and anything between 7 and 8 crore rupees would be made available for the reconstruction of these razed school structures.  If this is a fact, we would impress upon the authorities to hasten the task of calling tenders and completing the formalities as early as possible so that in March/April next year when schools reopen, the students will be given the cherished gift of shifting to their new school buildings.