Security forces should vacate schools, HRD writes to states

Rajeesh | July 15, 2010  | Categories: Uncategorized | URL:

While government forces and Naxals are engaged in a complex conflict across eight Naxal-affected states, schools and education are fast becoming a casualty in the fight. Taking note of the situation, the Union HRD Ministry has written to all Naxal-hit states asking that security forces occupying government schools vacate them at the earliest and schools damaged by Naxals be rebuilt

In a recent letter to chief secretaries of the eight Naxal-affected states, the HRD Ministry has noted how schools had begun to bear the brunt of the conflict and needed to be protected, sources said. Hundreds of schools in these states are being used to house security forces delpoyed in the area and several have even been turned into camps for them.

The HRD directive follows a report by international human rights organisation Human Rights Watch — “Sabotaged Schooling Naxalite Attacks and Police Occupation of Schools in India’s Bihar and Jharkhand States” — which said that education of tens of thousands of children in the conflict zone was being disrupted.

Apart from the HRW report, sample figures shared by Home Minister P Chidamabram in Parliament earlier this year revealed that Naxals had destroyed 71 schools buildings in 2009. In 2010 by March, nine school buildings have been attacked, Chidambaram had said. While the HRD Ministry is concentrating its efforts in these states, sanctioning 74 model schools for Chhattisgarh alone, there is a pressing need to do more.

The HRW report, accessed by The Indan Express, points out how both Naxalites and security forces were actually working in tandem to deprive children of schooling.

“Security forces are occupying government school buildings as bases for anti-Naxalite operations, sometimes only for few days but often for periods lasting years. Meanwhile, Naxalites…. are directly targeting and blowing up government schools… The government’s failure to promptly repair damaged schools enhances the lasting impact of such attacks. HRW is concerned with the use of schools that unnecessarily places children at risk and interferes with their right to education. Our research indicates that security forces are using government school buildings far too frequently, for far too long, and at far too great a cost of the education of students at these schools”, says the report.

In many cases, schools occupied by forces incur damage. Schools are often taken over by security forces at short notice, the report says.

It adds that Naxals’ claim that their attacks on schools do not disrupt children’s education as they only target schools used by security forces in counter-Naxalite operations are false. IE


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