Magistrates to ‘monitor’ assemblies and student activities in Kashmir schools

Heads of all education institutions in Kashmir have been directed to ensure regular morning assemblies and students have been advised to focus on “education only.”

File photo (Courtesy: Social media)
File photo (Courtesy: Social media)

Majid Maqbool

In another desperate move to ensure “normalcy”, the government has decided to deputing magistrates in all educational institutions across the Kashmir Valley in order to “monitor” activities of students even as most students are staying away from attending classes. Last month, the government had officially reopened all educational institutions across the Valley.

Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan had presided over a high-level meeting on how to regulate class work and successfully conduct exams in schools, colleges and universities. The decision to depute magistrates in institutions across the Valley was taken in the same meeting which was also attended by district commissioners and senior police officers.

“A magistrate shall be provided to every education institution for smooth functioning of the schools, colleges and universities,” read the minutes of the meeting.

Heads of all education institutions have also been directed by the government to ensure regular morning assemblies in schools. The students have also been advised to focus on “education only.”

In case of any law and order situation, the heads of the schools, colleges and universities across the valley have been directed to accordingly bring it to the notice of the concerned Deputy Commissioners (DCs) and Senior Superintendent of Police (SSPs) in addition to maintaining a strict vigil on educational institutions.

The DCs and SSPs have been asked to nominate senior officers for conducting daily briefings and de-briefing with the liaison officers of the educational institutions, including in colleges.

“The SSPs shall ensure that no police presences is felt within the premises of schools, colleges and universities. However peripheral areas outside schools and colleges shall be properly dominated,” reads the official communication.

The principals of the educational institutions have been asked to include the SHO of police in their meetings to prepare for reopening of schools, colleges and universities across the valley.

The government has also directed educational institutions to ensure that their CCTV cameras are functional and directed other institutions to install CCTV cameras to maintain “strict vigil”.

“The heads of institutions shall ensure functioning of the already installed CCTV cameras and wherever no CCTV cameras are installed the heads of the institutions shall put requisition with director, school education (Kashmir/ director colleges for proper watch and ward,” the communication reads.

All the educational institutions, including colleges were closed across the valley by the government following the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories on August 5. A complete communications gag including ban on mobile and internet services was also imposed which cut off the students from each other, their teachers and heads of the educational institutions.

Although the government last month officially reopened schools and colleges across the valley, but amajority of students have been staying away from educational institutions and parents have avoided sending their wards to schools since the lockdown began on August 5.

“Already there are many eyes on students once they are out of schools and colleges, but now deputing magistrates to keep a close watch on students inside the campuses will create more resentment among the student community against the government,” said a government school teacher who wished to remain unnamed.

“The government should let students express themselves and protest peacefully if they want to,” he said. “Suppressing students and keeping a close eye on them is no solution.”

“How can we attend schools and class work in the present situation when there is a complete shutdown observed by people and there are still restrictions imposed by the government on the free movement of the people,” asked a college student from the city who hasn’t attended regular classes since August 5.

“I was totally cut off from my classmates and teachers till the government only recently lifted the ban on mobile phones,” he said. “The government is trying to use students and educational institutions to bring a false sense of normalcy when nothing is normal here.”

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Published: 19 Oct 2019, 12:50 PM