Bacha Khan University terror attack: Indian schools yet to implement safety guidelines

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The attack on the Bacha Khan university in Pakistan shows yet again that educational institutions are soft targets for terrorists.

The Tehrik-e-Taliban which carried out the Peshawar school attack in December 2014 has claimed responsibility for the Bacha Khan attack as well.

Bacha Khan university attack

After the Peshawar attack, a set of guidelines had been issued by India for educational institutions to follow. However, a majority of the institutions are yet to implement the same. [Live: Pakistan terror attack: Death toll mounts to 21]

It must be noted here that several schools in Pakistan had remained shut a couple of days back after Intelligence Inputs had suggested that an educational institution would be targeted.

Educational institutions remain a soft target for terrorists not just in Pakistan but in other parts of the world as well.

It may be recalled that the al-Shabab had on April 2 2015 had entered Garissa University College in Garissa, Kenya, killing 147 and wounding dozens.

Why are educational institutes a soft target?

Emma Bradford and Margaret A. Wilson, forensic psychologists at the University of Liverpool, in an analysis for the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology said that terrorist organizations might choose to target educational institutions is that schools and school children act as powerful symbolic targets," wrote . Attacks on these targets evoke a strong emotional response, they also wrote.

While this is one of the reasons, the other is that educational institutions remain largely unguarded. It is very difficult to provide extensive security for schools and the fact that there are so many students present in one campus also makes it a favourite among terrorists to target.

Schools yet to implement Standard Operating Procedure:

Schools have not just been a soft target for terrorists. In India there are various instances of naxals too attacking schools. Naxals attack schools to send a message to villagers that they should not educate their children. The naxal battle is half lost if the villagers are educated.

In the aftermath of the Peshawar attack, India had issued guidelines and also put in place a standard operation procedure. Most schools are yet to implement the same. Intelligence Bureau officials say that all educational institutions must adhere to the norms. [Peshawar school terror attack: Home Ministry issues SOPs for schools]

The standard operating procedure states:

  • All schools must have a concrete boundary wall.
  • There must be at least three gates and each should be manned by a guard.
  • Each of these gates must have a telephone connected to the school Wireless modes of communication must also be given to the guards CCTVs are mandatory at all schools.
  • CCTVs must be installed both inside and outside the schools more importantly at the entry points. Install a public announcement system. 
  • Mock drills must be conducted regularly Guards must be trained on how to handle situations pertaining to abductionIn the event of an attack, children must ensure that the children are evacuated and the gates of the school closed.
  • Set up alarms in schools and have connectivity with the police control room.
  • Teachers must be trained to handle such situations.
  • Children must be priority for the teachers and they should train them on how to act in a situation.
  • In the event of a firing children must be told to lie to the ground. Safe passages must be provided in schools.
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