For the second time in the past 26 years reportedly, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) government officials have been suspended for “anti-national activities”. On 20 October 2016, twelve government employees accused of indulging in anti-national activities were dismissed and over 100 other staff members on similar charges are being closely monitored. Those sacked include mid-level officials from various state administration departments and teachers, some of who have been arrested, while others are out on bail or avoiding arrest. More than 9,000 people have been arrested for disrupting peace and more than 450 have been detained in a major crackdown by the Mehbooba Mufti government.
On 18 October for the first time in over a decade, joint teams of J&K and central police accompanied by Army, searched over 700 houses over a period of 12 hours in Baramulla district and recovered seditious anti-India publicity materials like leaflets and pamphlets, national flags of the Peoples’ Republic of China, letterheads of terrorist organizations, crude bombs and unauthorized mobile phones. While Pakistani flags are very common and even ISIS flags have been seen now and then, Chinese flags are new additions. 44 persons from ten sensitive localities, including Qazi Hamam, Ganai Hamam, Taweed Gunj, Jamia and other small pockets were arrested.
On 16 October, the All Parties Hurriyet Conference’s (APHC) issued a statement in Srinagar that, “lauded the people of Kashmir for showing steadfastness on the completion of 100 days of the ongoing Intifada”, which has claimed 90 lives and injured over 12,000 in violent clashes so far.
APHC’s head S.A.S. Geelani under house arrest and M.U. Farooq, heading the so-called “moderate” faction of separatists, arrested recently issued calendars continuously inciting people to spread hate and violent disruption in the Kashmir valley. Here is a brief excerpt: 26 September, Monday No Relaxation, NonResident Kashmiris’ (NRK) referendum March. NRK’s and friends of Kashmir Freedom Struggle March towards UN Headquarters and Indian Embassies all over the world including Pakistan and Azad Kashmir on the day when India speaks at 71st UN General Assembly Session. Carry flags banners and placards with messages reminding the world of promises of a referendum for the people of Jammu and Kashmir and highlighting war crimes perpetrated by Indian occupational forces in Jammu and Kashmir. Back home, assemble and occupy all roads from11a.m. to 4p.m. and carry flags, banners, placards with messages reminding the world of promises of a referendum for the people of Jammu and Kashmir and highlighting war crimes perpetrated by Indian occupational forces in Jammu and Kashmir. Offer Zuhar prayers on roads……27 September, Tuesday, Relaxation from 6 pm to 6 am, Women’s Day. Assemble and occupy local chowks and centers from Zuhr to Asr in the vicinity of your mohallas, villages and localities; Protest with flags placards and banners with freedom messages and slogans…..28 September , Wednesday Relaxation from 6 pm to 6 am, Trehgam, Pattan, Hajin, Khag, Wakoora, Srinagar (North) (Shaher-e-Khas), Pulwama (central), Koimouh, Kellar, Pahalgam freedom march……29 September, Thursday, Relaxation 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. One day Azadi convention, Neighboring villages and localities organize one day Azadi convention from 11am to 4pm in respective areas, deliberate and discuss ways and means to strengthen the ongoing people’s uprising for freedom from Indian occupation…….Directions for all the days: 1. Protests be held across Jammu and Kashmir. 2. Shutdown across J&K on all days except the relaxation mentioned in the program.3. Public Vehicular movement not to be stopped after 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. on all nights. 4. Lockdown all the routes entering your mohallas, villages and localities by every means during the night to protect people in general and youth in particular from the raids and arrests by Indian forces and J&K police. 5. Play Islamic and Azadi Taranas(songs) from Maghrib to Isha on all days.
According to local media, the “united Hurriyat” have run out of ideas to keep Kashmir boiling and quite confused, have issued a fresh protest calendar in October on the same anti-national lines as previous ones. People dealing with business in Kashmir have ridiculed the Hurriyat leaders. With no respite from separatists, people continue taking to the streets. On October 6, transporters publicly protested against S.A. S. Geelani in Lal Chowk saying he had failed to think of their livelihood and that their families were suffering from starvation. Business delegations have been visiting Geelani’s residence requesting for extension of relaxation and restoration of normalcy. A delegation of transporters visited Geelani’s residence complaining that he was only concerned about shopkeepers and completely ignoring transporters. Since July 8, when protests erupted, the Hurriyat had not announced a single hour of relaxation for buses, cabs and auto rickshaws. When some auto-rickshaws defied a ban, two of their vehicles were torched by miscreants. For the past three months, the separatists have been issuing protest calendars, preventing the restoration of normalcy in Kashmir.
One of the definite aims of Pak army/Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), implemented through its lackeys, the separatists, has been to paralyze education. Generating large scale rioting by public and particularly youth in Kashmir Valley, the separatists and their network yet again not only shut down schools but had six schools burnt by the agitators – three at Anantnag and one each at Ganderbal, Shopian, and Bandipora. Most of the scorched schools are primary schools except for the Abu Hanifa Complex Public School, begun in 1974, which during the previous academic year, functioned for only 215 days.
It is indeed most ironic that leave alone ensuring that education is not disrupted, a sinister process of radicalizing youth, which should have been nipped in the bud, but instead was allowed to fester, causing irreparable damage to education. Earlier, owing to frequent imposition of close-downs ordered by the separatists, on an average, two/three days in a week most institutions remained closed, causing a discontinuity in the education process. The current year, 2016, has been the worst, with a loss of tens of thousands of education days owing to these protests/rioting and resultant curfews. This figure multiplied by the number of students in the valley with the number of days lost will be alarmingly high. Add to that the loss caused by the schools which were burnt as well as the time and effort required to rebuild them. Every Kashmiri separatist leader’s daughter or son is rich and safe, outside Kashmir. For them, Jihad is meant for other people’s sons.
The only schools which ran uninterruptedly in the affected parts of the valley are 30 of the 46 Army Goodwill Schools (AGS) established in J&K by the Army as part of its civic assistance program, Sadbhavna, since the early 1990s. In parts of J&K where the AGS are functioning, there is a good rapport between the Army and the local populace. The setting up of AGS was preceded by a scheme of the Army sponsoring students from poor backgrounds and remote locations in J&K to Army schools in other states, most notable among them being Army Public School (APS), Beas, Punjab. In this APS, Army has sponsored 60 students of J&K- 26 from Leh region, 30 from the Valley and four from the Jammu region. Comprising both boys and girls, these students , from classes 6th to 9th, are getting an uninterrupted quality education in a healthy and competitive environment and at absolutely no cost to the parents. Another noteworthy example is APS, Udhampur, in the hostel of which, 26 boys from various regions of the State are being housed and educated. Among them is the last 10th class topper, Sunak Singh, who was adopted by the Army after his father was mercilessly gunned down by terrorists in 2001.
With many parents who can afford to, are sending their children out of J&K, or at least out of the valley, the Army launched a campaign on Twitter, Hashtag #School Chalo, which began catching on.
The Army’s action so angered the separatists that they went on a further drive to burn many more schools. On 29 October ’16, it was reported that the police in Kulgam district finally arrested over a dozen persons involved in the torching of seven government school buildings in the district in the last three months. The maximum number of schools (seven) were set ablaze in Kulgam district. The arrested are anti-social and separatist elements who wanted to destroy the future of poor students whose education is dependent on government schools. Besides the seven schools in Kulgam, four school buildings set ablaze in Budgam, two in Srinagar, three in Baramulla, two in Shopian, four in Anantnag and one each in Ganderbal, Pulwama and Kupwara districts. As many as 25 schools buildings have been torched in the ongoing unrest in the Valley. In almost all cases, the schools were targeted during night. The current unrest in Kashmir has affected more than 15 lakh school students. According to the Directorate of School Education Kashmir (DSEK), there are 11,766 government schools and 2,610 private schools in the Valley.
Chief Minister Mehbooba, who lashed out at the separatists earlier, finally begun acting against them. At least Yasin Malik and Aasiya Andrabi and Umer Farooq are in jail. Her message to youth is sane and touching-“We can’t force someone to talk by throwing stones on them. If we need a dialogue, we have to stop militancy….If we can hand them a bat or a ball instead of guns… ” It needs to be added yet again that no matter what is done, there will be no lasting peace in J&K till, literally, the separatists are not separated from the people.