Kashmir: Listen to the students

Views from Srinagar

Sheikh Shabir

STUDENTS are asset of a nation. On their young shoulders lie huge and valuable responsibilities of not only nation building but also acting like a golden thread to create and maintain social harmony. For that, the students need to be trained, educated and equipped with the qualities of tolerance, patriotism and reasoning.
Students across Kashmir have been protesting against the police harassment of students in Pulwama. Since then the student protests refuse to stop across Kashmir.
As a precautionary measure, the state authorities closed the higher institutions of education or suspended class work to ensure that the tempers of the angry students cool and normalcy gets restored.
However, after the reopening of the institutions, the protesting students are back on streets. Closing the institutions or suspending class work is also the tactics by the authorities to break the resolve of the students by making them feel that their education is suffering because of no class work.
But the tactics is not prevailing because nothing positive is happening in terms of the end to the protests or the reopening of the institutions to function normally.
This is a tragic situation. It in no way is going to benefit people or help in improving the relation between the state and the students.
Since the main casualty of this unusual situation is education without which we can’t survive. Education enables citizens to be physically, intellectually and spiritually fit to serve public.
But if the youth of today is denied an access to education, then it will be impossible for us to ask them to shoulder responsibilities in future and whatever we achieve will be in unsafe hands.
Prophets and great personalities of the world have emphasized upon the importance of achieving education. Unfortunately, in this part if the world, education has become fodder for politicians.
Moreover, for the survival of a society, what is required is the well aware and educated public. Ignorance and illiteracy of the common people cannot, in the long run, allow the ruling elite or the educated public to live peacefully.
So there is a need of mass literacy and education. Education can train one’s heart, hand and head and thus lead to a successful running of the affairs of state.
It was totally unnecessary and uncalled for the state police to enter the premises of the educational institutions in connection with student protests.
It was only after police entered the premises that situation got out of control. The resultant state of affairs could have been prevented had the authorities acted wisely and responsibly.
Already, there has been widespread anti-government sentiment since 2016 unrest. As the situation was slowly but steadily coming back to normalcy, there was a need to consolidate this position and thus pave way for peace.
But instead of cooling the situation, the authorities took the bull by the horns by pushing the students out of the classrooms to the roads to raise their voice against the forces. A clash ensued, leading to the wounding of hundreds of students.
Although several political and apolitical individuals and parties came to the rescue of the students but none so far has met them to listen to their point of view.
Moreover, the state authorities need to understand that arm twisting tactics cannot work. What can normalize the situation is the polite and understanding approach that needs to be applied to engage the student leadership in a constructive manner.
Banning the internet or the social networking sites is a kind of surrender by the state authorities before the agitating situation. It is in no way an effective means to improve the situation.
Rather, it is in a way a miscarriage of justice to and is akin to imprisoning people after denying them the access to knowledge, awareness and global information in this 21st century.
The state authorities need to negotiate with the students, listen to their point of view and ensure that justice is done with every student.
The resistance by students seems to have a pattern and so it can’t be taken lightly. Need of the hour is to talk to them. The state has to take the initiative and not just wait for the things to improve on their own or go for confrontation with the students to normalize the situation. [email protected]

—Courtesy: RK

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