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PSAJK Slams Order Shutting Down Private Schools on Govt Land in Kashmir

Around 155 private schools with more than 1,80,000 students were constructed on various categories of land decades ago.
How Kashmir, Pakistan and Secularism are Interconnected

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Srinagar: The Private School Association of Jammu and Kashmir (PSAJK) has slammed the “selective approach” of the Union Territory in ordering the closure of private schools constructed on government or kahcharie land, which would “harm the future” of children.

Around 155 private schools with more than 1,80,000 students were constructed on various categories of land, like Shamilat-e-Deh, kahcharie, State, Ahle Islam and mosque, decades ago. The schools are struggling to keep their registration intact after the administration ordered the revenue department to such schools built on non-private land for deregistration by the education department. These students shall be accommodated in nearby government schools after their parents agree to it, the order stated.

Meanwhile, Justice Moksha Khajuria Kazmi of the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh has stayed the deregistration till July 18 following petitions submitted by the schools.

The selective approach towards private schools in Jammu and Kashmir will harm the future of our children. Children and their parents should be given a choice to decide regarding schools. The order is like using force,” PSAJK president GN Var told Newsclick.

The option to enrol children in government school is “unfortunate”, Var said, adding that it “goes against the fundamental rights of a child by violating” Article 14 and Article 21 (life and liberty) and the Right to Education Act.

Var, a leading educationist in Kashmir, pointed out that there are many parks, commercial establishments, hotels and schools on leased lands. “But I fail to understand why is the government selectively targeting some private schools. A false narrative is being pushed. There is a Supreme Court judgement which clearly states that schools will not be touched while retrieving government land.”

Earlier, during the ninth national conference of Private Schools and Children Welfare Association (PSCWA) in Jaipur on Sunday, Var urged the government to recognise the contribution of the private sector to education.

We are concerned about the children, who have been barred from receiving education at the institutions as the administration issued an order and also made some amendments saying that any school built on any sort of government land will be closed down. We are very much worried,” Var said in Jaipur. He had also urged the general secretary of PSCWA to take up the issue with the Central government.

Var termed the order a “national issue” and a “grave injustice” claiming that schools in the Valley are already under “stress” due to the compulsory obtainment of no-objection certificates (NOCs) from the pollution control board. “Are books causing pollution? Are children causing pollution? Are schools causing pollution in Kashmir? Schools have been directed to obtain NOCs from the pollution control board, which takes more than two years,” he said.

The order has also been criticised by regional political parties, including the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Apni Party, who termed it a “punishment”. “These are mostly students whose other option is a government school. These institutions provided quality education at a substantially lower cost than the usual private schools. Its effect will be colossal,” former state education minister Naeem Akhtar tweeted.

Earlier this month, the administration had banned schools run by Falah-e-Aam Trust, which is affiliated with the banned socioreligious group Jamaat-e-Islami Kashmir, triggering concerns among scores of students and their families and teachers.

 

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