Srinagar, Jan 05: Private schools in Kashmir are charging fees under undefined heads, even as the government allowed them an increment in tuition fee by up to eight per cent.
Besides charging exorbitant admission fees from the students, the government’s Committee for Fixation of Fee Structure of Private Educational Institutions or the Fee Fixation Committee (FFC) has recently said that some schools have “developed a practice of charging huge sum by way of annual charges without any justification”.
“In some areas of the state there is a practice of charging admission fees annually,” reads the FFC order.
The schools charging the “unjustified” fees under the headers, the FFC has said, were “causing a great harassment to the students and their parents/guardians”.
Echoing the FFC, several parents told to The Kashmir Monitor that some private schools demanded as high as Rs 5,000 from each student as part of “annual fees”.
“The school even refused to hand over the mark-sheets of the students. Even after a verbal brawl between the parents and the school authorities, the school still took Rs 4,000 from each parent,” a parent not willing to disclose his name, said.
While the FFC in the order gave an ultimatum of 15 days to the erring private schools to disclose the various heads and their utilisation, in-charge Administrative Officer FFC, Nazir-ul-Hussain Shah, said the schools were still submitting the fee structure.
Going by the fee structure details submitted to the FFC, Shah said, the schools were citing “construction, expansion and other facilities” as “justification” for the annual fees that they are demanding from the students.
“After getting the details (of fee structure), a committee would be constituted to take a call over the matter. The schools will have to justify the fee structure,” Shah said, adding that the erring schools charged annual fees from Rs 1,200 to as high as Rs 3,000.
“We will take a cue from other states over the matter,” Shah said.
Over the matter, President Private Schools Association J&K (PSAJK), G N Var termed the erring institutions as “unfortunate” even calling them “black sheep”.
“The association would not support such schools,” he added.
Var, however, said that the “line of demarcation between aided and unaided schools should be clear”.
“Some aided schools are running from government land, so the government should not apply the same yardstick to both types of schools. That said, it does not mean that the unaided schools indulge in violations.”
No decision yet on resumption of Cross LOC trade
Govt working on installing truck scanners on trade routes
Srinagar, May 18: Though they are unlikely to resume the cross-Line of Control (LoC) trade soon, the authorities are working on installing truck scanners at both the trade centres Salamabad in the Kashmir valley and Chakan Da Bagh in Poonch in Jammu.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on April 18 had suspended the cross-LoC trade in J&K, saying that it was being used for “funneling of illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency”.
“As such there is no order to resume the LOC trade but yes work had started on installing truck scanners at both the trade centres Salamabad in Kashmir and Chakan Da Bagh in Poonch in Jammu,” said one of the top government officials.
He said if the trade resumed, the truck scanners will enable the customs department and other agencies to see what is being imported from the other side.
After suspending the LOC trade, the MHA had said that the issue will be “revisited” after a “stricter regulatory & enforcement mechanism” that is being worked out is “put in place in consultation with various agencies”.
Cross-LoC traders and others associated with the trade are demanding the resumption of the business.
Traders has said that they support the government’s every move to put strict and transparent regulatory measure but suspension of trade that took a decade to establish itself is no answer.
“Over the past decade, cross-LoC trade has been our only source of income. Suspension of trade has affected our families. We request government to implement strict regulatory measures and continue trade simultaneously,” said one of the LOC traders.
In October 2008, as a confidence building measure, India and Pakistan agreed to carry out trade along the Line of Control through the Uri-Muzaffarabad route in Kashmir and the Poonch-Rawalakot route in Jammu.
The two countries agreed on a Standard Operating Procedure.
The defining feature of the initiative was that there would be no exchange of money between traders – it would involve the barter system. If a trader in Pakistan sent across goods worth five lakh Indian rupees to a trader on the Indian side, that trader would send back goods of the same value as payment.
It is to mention here that the initiative was launched during the tenure of the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance government, its seed was planted in 2004, in the peace process initiated by the late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pakistan president General Pervez Musharraf.
Cross-LoC trade was the second confidence-building measure between India and Pakistan after a cross-LoC bus service, which was launched in 2005.
For security agencies, cross-LoC trade has always attracted strict surveillance. They have, over the years maintained that they seized weapons, fake currency and narcotics being transported from the other side.
B’pora teacher still missing; family protests for whereabouts
Srinagar, May 18: The family members and relatives of the missing Bandipora government teacher on Saturday held a demonstration here in Mantrigam Bandipora area of north Kashmir’s district seeking his whereabouts.
Eye witnesses said that family members and relatives of Mushtaq Ahmad lone a government teacher assembled here in Mantrigam area of Bandipora and blocked the Bandipora-Gurez road.
They staged a demonstration seeking Mushtaq’s whereabouts, who went missing on May 13 after he left home for duty to Government Higher Secondary School Chuntimulla and has not returned home till date.
Family sources said that they tried to locate him everywhere but couldn’t find any clue despite lodging missing report in Pathkoot Police station.
“We have called relatives and friends, however, there has been no trace of him so far,” the family members said adding “his phone has been switched off for a long time.”
The family members and relatives of Mushtaq urged deputy commissioner Bandipora and SSP Bandipora to help in locating their missing son.
Meanwhile, a senior police officer said a missing report in this matter has been lodged in police station Pathkoot and investigation has been taken up.
Unabated killings even during Ramadan worrisome: PDP
Srinagar, May 18: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Saturday said it’s worrisome to witness that there is no letup in killings and bloodshed in Kashmir even during the holy month of Ramadan.
In a statement, PDP General Secretary Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura said the unabated killings of civilians, militants and security forces in Kashmir has once again made peace elusive even during the ongoing sacred month of Ramadan.
He said the way in which precious human lives are lost in Kashmir, there are apprehensions that the government is in no mood to shun the muscular policy that so far has yielded no positive results.
Hanjura said that it has been the cardinal Principe of the PDP that muscular and iron fist approach is bound to fail in Kashmir as such measures have in the past only wreaked havoc and in the future also wouldn’t bring any positive change on ground.
He said keeping the sanctity of the holy month of Ramadan in view, PDP President Mehbooba Mufti as the Chief Minister last year played a vital role in making GOI declare unilateral ceasefire in Kashmir. This year also, said Hanjura, the PDP President made a fervent appeal to both militants as well to the security grid to declare truce and respect the ongoing holy month. “It is hoped that good sense will prevail and the vicious cycle of violence and bloodshed is stopped at an earliest so that the people of Kashmir yearning for peace could heave a sigh of relief,” said Hanjura.
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