Jammu and Kashmir High Court has pulled up the state officials over continuing incidents of schools being targeted in the unrest-hit Valley even as it was informed that authorities are getting help from locals in keeping vigil at these buildings. The Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, told the court that six out of 11 attempts to target schools have been frustrated recently as there is overwhelming response from people towards safeguarding the schools.
“Where were your officials when attempt was made to burn two more schools (on Sunday). “Compliance on papers is not enough,” a division bench comprising justices S Ramalingam and Ali Mohammad Magrey said on Monday while hearing a PIL on schools being burnt by unidentified attackers in the Valley.
The bench said it was concerned about saving the schools. The High Court had taken suo motu cognizance of the incidents of burning of schools in Kashmir last month and directed the officials — Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Inspector General of Police Kashmir and Director School Education — to take steps to prevent any harm to more schools.
The court had also sought a status report from them and directed them to be present in the court yesterday. The court, while rapping the Government for its failure to stop burning of schools, asked it to take effective measures for safeguarding the educational institutions.
The IGP informed the court that besides schools, more than 100 government buildings have been damaged during the unrest. The Divisional Commissioner informed the court about the steps taken for safeguarding the schools, saying control rooms have been established which are in touch with the concerned police stations.
The court directed these officials to make coordinated efforts to save the educational institutions from any kind of damage and to involve locals in the process in order to keep vigil on these buildings.
The Divisional Commissioner said Village Level Committees, Sarpanches, Panches and Lumberdars were involved in the process of guarding the schools. The bench suggested that fire dousing equipments be made mandatory in public buildings.
The court also suggested that services of contingent paid employees (temporary contract employees) of schools — with enhanced wages — can be utilised for keeping vigil on the school buildings. The Director School Education submitted that he has raised the issue of enhancement of wages for contingent paid employees with the Education Minister recently so that they can keep strong vigil on the school buildings.
He has also submitted that control rooms at chief education officer and zonal education officer level have been established to safeguard the institutions.