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Education has no borders, no boundaries

Mohammad Umar Bhat

Education has no borders, no boundaries

Education is a sustainable tool for human rights. It promotes peace and security. But education in conflict zones is very tough. Students are living in miserable conditions. The conflict has affected education all over the world, be it Palestine, Yemen, Syria, or Kashmir. Education has suffered greatly in these conflict regions. I am from Kashmir. We are brave people. No matter how much we are presented as victims, I refuse to endorse that. Yes, politics and violence affect us in so many ways that it leaves us bruised, maimed and always vulnerable. But we survive. We resist and live a respectable life. 

I am sure and I hope so that all of you, present here, know what is happening in Kashmir. The human cost of this conflict is too high. Every morning is a ‘morning of mourning’ there. In 2010, they started using pellet guns and since then we have become a nation of blinded people, perhaps as that great son of our land, Dr. Manan Wani Shaheed called it, ‘world’s first mass blinding’ orchestrated by the so-called world’s largest democracy. 

Recently they blinded HibaJaan. She was 18 months old baby girl. To say Kashmiris have suffered is an understatement but we survive and we resist. 

Of course, the human cost is high but those who live and survive are continuously deprived of their social and political rights. As a student, I’m obligated to write about my fellow breather and the state of affairs of education. Pertinently, education has suffered the most in occupied Kashmir. The educational institutes are closed for months, and years, the internet – the lifeline of a modern proper education system – remains off and banned for months. Students who decide to move out of their comfort zones and study at different universities in India put themselves at high risk. Even a simple cricket match can lead them prone to physical violence and legal prosecution. It has happened in the past and there is no way to disagree that it won’t happen in the future. 

Often my friends who study in these universities tell me how hard it is for them to insulate themselves from the threats especially as the Hindutva parties rise in power. Calling someone anti-national in India and sending him to this land of pure is becoming part of the political discourse. And if Kashmiris are at getting receiving end, it becomes too convenient. Now when Kashmiri students decide to study in other parts of the world, outside India, they face hardships in getting passports and other related travel documents. 

From local police stations to higher officials, all departments of the state hold back and delay the process of getting passport. By doing this, they are playing with careers of thousands of hard-working intelligent students who desire to change the world, their society and play a role in emancipating humanity. The authorities make every possible attempt to deny required travel documents to Kashmiri students. On a personal level, I had applied for passport in 2017 and after a year, I was given passport when I told them that I am going for the holy pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia with my family. I misinformed them to survive.

A good option for many students in Kashmir is to study in Pakistan. The government of Pakistan has a special scholarship in renowned medical and engineering colleges all over Pakistan for Kashmiri students. Thousands of Kashmiri students have completed their education in Pakistan. But after 5th august 2019, India is harassing Kashmiri students studying in Pakistan. Families of Medical, engineering and even scholars are summoned by Indian authorities in Kashmir. Students are now denied travel documents even careers of some students are ruined. 

Pakistan is providing education to orphaned, poor Kashmiri students who are passionate to study and work for the betterment of Kashmir. But India on the other hand is dividing education without remembering that education has no borders and no boundaries. It is pertinent to mention that in Kashmir, schools, colleges and universities are closed after 5th august 2019. 

SAARC, UNESCO, UNICEF and other NGO’s related to education should pressurize Indian government to allow Kashmiri students to continue their studies wherever they want including Pakistan. I always remind myself that this God-blessed country has always invoked moral authority when it came to the issues related to Kashmir and it is my belief that this great country will not let anyone down, especially the oppressed and the survivors. I hope the issues of students are dealt with finesse and looked after in the most efficient of ways for it directly affects the students. After all, hope sustains us.

(-The writer is doing M.S in Media Studies from Riphah International University. He can be reached at mohdumarbhat01@gmail.com.)

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