Srinagar, Aug 22: Abdul Rashid, the principal of a government school in Nadihal, Kashmir, is lying on a hospital bed in a critical condition. Some days ago, he decided to keep his school open and wait for the students to come in. The ones that did go to school and beat him up mercilessly were not students, but a mob of some 20 people.
State Education Minister Naeem Akthar says schools have been instructed to remain open and teachers asked to attend everyday, despite the curfew. "The teachers have been coming to schools. Education is a priority for us. It's the separatists who have ordered schools to remain closed", he says.
Teachers across the state have been told they have to compulsorily go to school and mark attendance, else their salaries would be cut. But the children are not attending. Attendance is zero, because parents are unwilling to send their children to school for fear of violence.
"Rashid is still in hospital in a critical condition. It's not safe to send our children to school. What's the point of keeping schools open if they cannot provide security to our children. What if a mob attacks the school when our children are attending", Mushtaq, a father of two told OneIndia over phone from Baramulla.
"Our children's future is getting affected badly. My boys have been at home for the past 45 days. And there seems to be no solution in sight for the current troubles".
One school teacher, on condition of anonymity, said that teachers, on the other hand, had been left with no choice. "The Education Minister has said schools should remain open. Based on this, the department officials have told us, it is compulsory for us to sign attendance. We go to school in the morning and return by evening although not one student is attending class. What can we do? We need our salaries."
Not just schools, almost every other service is shut in J&K. While mobile services are back -- only through BSNL's postpaid connections -- mobile internet service is not available.
People are forced to stay at home all day due to the curfew orders and television is the only recourse to pass time, but they are unable to recharge their direct-to-home TV subscriptions. Kashmiris are reaching out to their relatives across the country and asking them to recharge their television subscriptions for them.
Access to banking, too, is broken. When violence broke out in the state more than a month ago, many rushed to the banks to withdraw large sums of money, and banks ran out of cash. The banks reacted by capping ATM withdrawls to Rs. 4,000 per day.
Now, with oil industry staff on strike in the state, the petrol pumps have gone dry.
Anger is rising among Kashmiris due to the hardships, with people questioning how ministers are moving around freely while the life of the common man has come to a standstill.
That anger is now directed at senior BJP ministers who travelled along with their supporters in long convoys to attend a rally in Smailpur, with people suspecting that the Centre has deliberately stopped fuel supplies to the state, although petroleum ministry officials said that tankers did not reach bunks last week on account of 'Raksha Bandhan' holiday.