Amid increasing incidents of burning of schools, the state government today pointed accusing fingers at separatists, saying they had started the “era of destruction” in Kashmir but were now trying to find an escape route. Education Minister Naeem Akhtar also ruled out any probe into these incidents, saying, “One does not have to research for the source of this huge conspiracy against the hapless people of Kashmir.”
In a statement here, he said, “burning of schools is one of the ploys to keep the fire burning (in Kashmir)… It is the same people who are promoting looting of banks, torching of shops and vehicles, stoning innocents, intimidation of citizens, who are responsible for burning the educational institutes.”
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Over the last few months, around 25 schools have been burnt down mysteriously across the Kashmir valley.
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Asserting that “no inquiry is needed to find out who is behind all this”, the minister said, “It is those people who have created this tirade against education, because they see it as a threat to their vested interests.”
Akhtar said the separatists had mounted a tiger and are now trying hard to keep the conflict going.
Targeting Yasin Malik, the minister said in the initial phase, the JKLF chief and others were “at the forefront of driving the shutdowns but now they have distanced themselves and thrown the ball solely in the court of (hardline Hurriyat Conference chairman) Syed Ali Shah Geelani.”
Defending his decision to hold Board examinations as per schedule, the Education Minister said the government is 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,” said Akhtar, who is also government spokesman.
Referring to the Malik’s statement that the burning of schools in Kashmir was a conspiracy to defame the separatist leaders, Akhtar said, “those saying that government decision to hold exams has forced students to torch the educational institutes should go for a self-introspection”.
The Education Minister appealed to people from all schools of thought to keep the education conflict-neutral.
“Just see Palestine or the recent happenings in Aleppo, Syria. Their schools are never shut even if there are bombings, killings and full-fledged war. They know that education is the key and in no way they can stop education.
“Compared to that, Kashmir is a peaceful region, except for the insecurity caused by the hartal politics being promoted through stone-pelting and intimidation,” Akhtar said.
“In Kashmir too, we faced unfortunate deaths for which all of us are heartbroken and pained, but for saving the future generation, education has to go on,” he said.
Taking on Yasin Malik, Akhtar said, “It is the examination time for leaders like Mohammad Yasin Malik who is now facing questions from the people over the way they are pushing Kashmiris into perpetual economic and academic disempowerment.”
He also asked him to clarify whether he is with militancy or non-violence.
“Malik is famous for saying that he was inspired by (Mahatma) Gandhiji when he announced ceasefire and abandoned his path to martyrdom whereas he is promoting others to do so and continues to glorify violence.
“Now I want to ask him whether he stands with violence or Gandhi Ji’s principles of non-violence. Has he again changed his thoughts? Akhtar asked.