Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Monday took suo-moto cognisance of burning of schools in the valley after separatists allegedly targeted 25 such institutions over the past one month, media reports said.
In a series of such attacks, separatists on Monday set on fire another school in Kashmir, inviting public ire. The latest incident took place in Anantnag district.
A major portion of the school building was reportedly damaged in the arson attack.
The J&K High Court listed the case for next hearing on November 7 and directed the three officials to remain present.
The bench observed that the mysterious burning of centres of learning has sent shock waves awakening all to ponder.
"Education is the main factor for intellectual excellence and prosperity. Imparting education in the centres of learning has no other viable substitute," it added.
"All the three responsible officers present in the court are directed to sit together along with higher authorities and lower officials and to devise modes and methods which will be effective in protecting school institutions," said the bench of Justices Mohammad Yaqoob Mir and Ali Mohammad Magrey.
The directions were issued to the Inspector General of Police, the Divisional Commissioner and the Director of School Education of Kashmir.
The court also directed the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police to issue necessary instructions to their district level officers including Deputy Commissioners and SPs to take all preventive measures as shall be necessary for saving the school buildings from being burnt and to ensure that no other school building is harmed or destroyed.
"Further the mysterious enemies of education shall be unmasked and dealt with iron hand," the court said.
The bench lashed out at the state government, saying the "administrative authorities are required to have resort to protective measures but they are still in deep slumber, appear not to have devised any protective policy for protecting school buildings".
The court also expressed hope that the "mysterious persons" will stop burning school buildings and "also hope that the citizens will also help in protecting school buildings".
Locals have blamed the Hurriyat Conference for the attacks, saying that the managements have been warned against the opening of schools in a Talibani-style diktat.
Over the past few weeks, the separatists have burnt down over two dozen schools in the Valley in a desperate bid to keep up their ante.
The opening of the schools is an emotive issue for parents as it is linked to the career of their wards.
Last Saturday, scores of parents took to the streets in Srinagar to protests against the separatists' call for shutdown.
They alleged that they were being forced to follow the instructions of separatists.
Reacting to these incidents, HRD MoS Mahendra Nath Pandey said, “Few people in J&K are pulling children back into dirt, we have to wipe them.”
The Valley has been tense for several months now following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists commander Burhan Wani on July 8 in an encounter with the security forces.
Slamming the Hurriyat, J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had said that the separatists want to snatch away books from the children and replace them with stones.
(With PTI inputs)