Srinagar,  November 4

The Jammu and Kashmir state government should bring to justice those responsible for the burning of schools in Kashmir and end the occupation of schools by security forces, Amnesty International India said today.

Since July, at least 25 schools have been completely or partially burnt across 10 districts. Three schools were set on fire on 29 and 30 October. Nobody has been injured or killed in the attacks, which have mostly taken place at night, and the motivation for the attacks remains unclear. No group has claimed responsibility. The state police have arrested 22 suspects in recent weeks.

“Schools should be safe spaces under all circumstances. The vicious arson attacks on schools end up denying children in Kashmir their right to education. This disturbing trend must stop,” said Aakar Patel, Executive Director, Amnesty International India.

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has asked the state government to immediately take preventive measures. The Director of School Education in Kashmir told Amnesty International India, “It is difficult for us to protect all the school buildings as they are scattered all over the geographical areas of the valley… We are trying to involve local village and mosque committees in the protection of the schools.”

“The right to education of children in Kashmir can also be hampered by the use of schools for military purposes,” said Aakar Patel. “The presence of security forces in schools can increase the risk of them being attacked, and the long-term occupation of schools can increase dropouts and lower student enrolment and teacher recruitment.”