NATIONAL

Militants targeting teachers

Mahore (Udhampur) Aug. 10. An ambitious plan to educate people of the backward and remote hills of Jammu and Kashmir has run into rough weather as militant attacks on the teacher community have become rampant. And, the concept of mobile schools (Raber-e-Taleem) for the rural populace, started during the National Conference regime, has failed to make an impact.

Militants call the shots and the teachers fear for their lives. Moreover, payment for Rs.1500 for the local educated youth roped in for the programme has few takers now though in the beginning many volunteered. The money can hardly be an incentive to work in militant zones, says a young teacher.

The threats have had their impact and are showing on the attendance of the teachers. Absenteeism is high and there seems to be no mechanism to check the tendency.

The freedom enjoyed by the teachers is lost and it is showing on the quality of education imparted. A teacher was killed recently in Mahore and some time back militants entered the premises of a school and shot dead another.The incidents have not gone unnoticed in the neighbouring areas, especially by the teaching community.

Though militant outfits have not imposed "restrictions" on education, teachers in the hills complain that militants tell them "what to teach and what not."

"It is difficult to defy them for, they come to know what happens in the classrooms as they repeatedly question the children on their way back home," says a teacher.

The militant's interference in the education system in areas such as Udhampur, which has one of the lowest literacy rates of the Valley, may derail all efforts to uplift the masses.

However, it should be said that no security system would work in the hills, as the security pickets themselves are targets of militants.