Absolute madness

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Attack on school bus

Two minor students were injured – one of them with a severe head injury – when their school bus was pelted with stones in Zavoora area of Shopian on Wednesday (May 02, 2018). This incident has provoked widespread condemnations from both mainstream and the separatist leaders, though latter, as always, remained guarded in its denunciation. The general population too is aghast at this madness of stone-pelters. But they certainly are in no position to vent out their rage out in the open; they will have to do it inside the safety of their caves like they have always done. Nobody wants to be seen as “anti-movement” and framed as being a traitor; for people know how traitors are treated here!

It is time to move beyond token admonitions and guarded condemnations, and try and look at this larger malaise of stone-pelting in the face, debate it for its merits and demerits so as to evolve at a reasonable conclusion whether it could be accorded the sanctity of status quo. And more than anything else, it is time for the society to decide whether it could afford to look at the students as expendables in a larger political game played in Kashmir’s amphitheatre. Can the education, and personal safety and security of young children be bartered away to satisfy the whims and fancies of a certain chunk of socio-psychopaths of this society?

It will be interesting to know the mind of those who are ruling the streets in Kashmir on the issue of education. And those who claim to be the representatives of the people’s sentiment and ‘tarjuman’ (spokespersons) of their sacrifices, must also tell us how they look at and feel about the education. Do Kashmir’s children have a right to study? Do ‘we the people’ of Kashmir need education — and schools, and colleges and universities?

If yes, then there is no reason why the larger politics of this place should every now and then impact the functioning of our educational institutions by creating situations that puts students unnecessarily in the harm’s way? But if the education is seen as an unnecessary vestige of western cultural aggression which is to be despised and avoided for retaining the purity of the “God’s faithful”, then it too needs to be spelled out loud and clear.

Guarded condemnations followed by unnecessary lectures on maintenance of invisible, unknown and unseen “discipline” needed for the “success of movement” is, plainly speaking, even at its best, only what is called “beating around the bush”. Leaders are those who lead – through both word and deed – and not the ones whose articulation on issues remains ambivalent and ambiguous for the sheer reason that they do not want to annoy a particular constituency!

It’s time people are told loud and clear and without any  wooliness as to what those in the leadership roles think about the education of our children. If the schools are to be closed, let them say so. It will at least spare the parents of unnecessary pain and trauma of grieving about the safety of their children each time they step out of homes to go to schools, colleges and varsities. People can simply keep their children home so that they do not have worry about some invisible stone pelted by some faceless mob on a school van or a college bus bruising and battering their innocent and unsuspecting kids for no fault of theirs. Parents will also not have to fret and fear about their children being hit by the pallets and bullets of government forces during their confrontations with the students both inside and outside Kashmir’s school and college campuses.

Ask parents about their priorities – to choose between the safety of kids and their education. Answer for certain would weigh in favour of safety. So it needs no further debate. If we cannot ensure safety of children once they are out for schooling, it’s better to close down campuses. PERIOD. Or else, let’s call spade a spade and grow no bones about the incidents like the one at Zavoora (Shopian), and send out a clear message that this kind of hooliganism is unwarranted so much so that those responsible warrant something more than mere condemnations – action as per law for risking and hurting the life of others.

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