After ‘Operation Calm down’ in South Kashmir, Army is now focussing on another operation — ‘School Chalo’, under which it identifies areas and provides students with free coaching and make them participate in extra-curricular activities.
“We know we have to deal situation on the internal front and we are doing that with desired results. But simultaneously during my interaction with locals, I felt they were worried about the studies of their children, but at the same time anxious about their security. That is where I asked my boys to work out a plan for providing education to students,” says Major General Ashok Narula, General-Officer-in-Command of ‘Victor Force’.
The army had launched Operation ‘Calm Down’ in August- September to clear different parts of the Valley of militants and protesters using minimum force.
With educational institutions remaining closed for about five months now and over 30 schools being burnt down over the past weeks, Gen Narula’s directions under the ‘School Chalo’ programme is increasingly becoming popular in the Valley.
Various formations under his command have started identifying teachers in localities and urging them to hold classes in schools or community houses to impart education to children, who have been deprived of it ever since trouble broke out on July 9 this year, a day after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter.
“Besides being an army officer, I am a father of two children. So here I approached the issue as a father and not as an Army officer and ensured that these children should hold books in their hands, rather than a stone,” Narula said.
Using a local slogan ‘Chyem ne zaroorat Daulat-o-Rubab, Faqat Gochum School te Kitab (I don’t need money and fame, I need books and school)’, the army offcers and men now perform a different kind of task — to convince the parents to send their wards to make-shift dwellings to study.
Army officers cited the performance of 292 students who were studying in the Army Goodwill School at Pahalgam who were being taught by well qualified teachers.
“Unhindered by the turmoil which had engulfed the state, these students have not only finished and revised their syllabus but have also participated whole-heartedly in various functions like Eid, Independence Day etc. These (activities) were also the reasons given to parents in other localities to convince them to send in their children,” said Narula.