Anti-encroachment drive may impact 650 Pvt. schools in Kashmir
SRINAGAR, Jan 23: Ever since the new government survey identified the encroachers of government land in Jammu and Kashmir, almost all sections of the society have been gripped by panic and fear in one way or the other. Similarly, private schools are no exception in this regard.
According to Private Schools’ Association J&K, nearly 650 schools are facing the danger of eviction in the face of a recent government crackdown on the encroachers of state land in Jammu and Kashmir. Various educational institutions as well operate from leased lands in Jammu and Kashmir and the government has made them a priority as well. The three Christian missionary schools in particular: Biscoe-Mallinson, Burnhall, and Presentation Convent hold nearly 214 Kanals of prime land around the city center, Lal Chowk.
In April last year, the Higher Education department issued an order seeking details from private schools regarding the land that they operate from. The Education Department had also locked various schools that operated on government land. Pertinently, the Private Schools’ Association approached the court, which plugged the actions of the Higher Education department via a stay order. However, the government has again turned its eye towards the encroached and leased land to the private schools.
While speaking with the Daily Kashmir Despatch, the president of the Private Schools Association, G N Var said, “there are various private schools that were constructed and are run by various social and religious organizations, including Anjuman-e-Auqaf, Jamiat-e-Ahlehadees, Falah-E-Aam, etc.”
“The majority of these religious and social charitable establishments are serving their true purpose by benefitting the poor and the disadvantaged children of our society. There are indeed some exceptions where many private schools are not abiding by their social spirit, but in that case, the government must ensure that a proper mechanism is in place so that the misuse of public property can be restricted.”
Mr. Var said further that the “local people are the owners of this land” and the administration should abide by the Supreme Court direction which has asked the government of Jammu and Kashmir not to touch the schools, hospitals, and social service institutions during its drive against the encroachers of state/government land.
According to the Right to Education Act, 25% of seats in all private schools from primary through eighth grade must be reserved for the poor and underprivileged children, however, nearly all the private schools in Jammu and Kashmir have committed dereliction in this regard. The majority of the schools fail to reserve the 25% free-ship quota for poor and underprivileged children.
While defending the private schools, G N Var said, “The administration of Jammu and Kashmir has failed to impose the Right to Education Act in Jammu and Kashmir in the aftermath of the abrogation of article 370.”
Var pitched for the imposition of the Right to Education Act in Jammu and Kashmir and said that this action is the need of the hour. It remains to be seen whether the administration of Lt. Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Shri Manoj Sinha would leave the private schools alone, especially when he promised that the anti-encroachment campaign of his administration would be directed at the affluent only.