Amid Student Protests In Kashmir, Private Coaching Centres Shut

Srinagar:  In a move apparently aimed at keeping students away from street protests, the Jammu and Kashmir government has ordered private coaching centres to shut down for the next three months, drawing sharp reactions from the institutes and students.

“When students leave the coaching centres at 11 and reach their schools at 11.30 am, they get late and are not allowed to enter. They are young and therefore throw stones. Their protest is against the system which is working to their disadvantage. We are trying to see how to synchronise the system,” said Education Minister Altaf Bukhari.

The move comes against the backdrop of massive protests by students, mostly belonging to government schools and colleges, over the gang-rape and murder of an eight-year-old in Kathua.

Ever since schools and colleges reopened in March after the winter vacation, half the time they have been shut as a “precautionary measure” by the government, following protests over deaths of civilians in encounters between terrorists and security forces.

The government order spells bad news for students like Mohammad Junaid and his friends from militancy-hit Pulwama in south Kashmir. For the past six months, the Class 12 students had been studying at a private coaching centre in Srinagar.

“The situation is bad in Kashmir and already a lot of our time gets wasted due to a lot of distractions. The government decision to shut the coaching centres will be a big setback for us”, said Mohammad Junaid, who wants to become a doctor.

How will we spend three months without studying, asked another student.

There are over 550 private coaching centres across Kashmir in which over 50,000 students are enrolled. Many coaching institutes have refused to comply, saying they have got no written orders from the state government.

“Unemployment is increasing, there have been atrocities and now there is now ban on education. That’s when a person starts feeling there is no democracy,” said Hilal Ahmad, administrator of Pulse Institute of Competitive Studies.

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