It survived the turbulent years of militancy, but today DAV school has turned into an abandoned “ghost house” as the school management and the state government have failed to restore the institution after September floods.
“We were given discharge certificate and told to find a new school. There were already fewer students… the school administration played with our future,” said one of the former students of the school.
The teachers and other people who have been associated with the school for the last 30 years are also disheartened by the decision of the management to close down. They also alleged that they had not been given salaries for the last 38 months. “I gave thirty years of my life to this school. I worked here during bullets and bombs, but today I feel disappointed. I don’t understand what is going on between the management and the government over the restoration of the school. Between all this, teachers and students have been made to pay the price,” one of the oldest employees of the school said while requesting anonymity.
The institution was initially run from a rented accommodation and later then Chief Minister GM Sadiq had allotted a piece of land for setting up the school at Jawahar Nagar on the request of the then Principal, RK Ganjoo.
Before 1990, the school was one of the leading educational institutions of Kashmir. “It was difficult to get admission in the school during those years. The school topped the merit list every year. But today, when I look at the school, I feel like crying. I grew up playing in the lawns of the school,” said Ghulam Ahmad, a resident of Jawahar Nagar, who has been a student of the school.
Before militancy, Jawahar Nagar was mostly inhabited by Kashmiri Pandits. Majority of teachers and students in the institution were Pandits. After armed insurgency, most of them left the Valley, reducing the roll of school from 6,000 to few hundred.
“After militancy, the school remained almost empty as most of the Pandit students and teachers were forced to leave their homes. We carried on with the school in difficult times, but today it has been neglected by everyone. We want this school should be restored like before. We want to teach here again. We are emotionally attached to it,” said one of the teachers.
The institution boasts of a rich history. It has produced personalities like Prof Ashok Aima, Vice Chancellor, Central University, Jammu; Dr Sameer Kaul, Kuldeep Khoda, former DGP; Vidu Vinod Chopra, Atal Dulloo, Ali Sagar and many more. But today, the school is craving for attention.
The flood-hit furniture has not been removed from the lawns of the school from the last 11 months. The muck and filth persist on the premises. The walls are cracked and the flood marks are still visible.
When asked about the restoration of the institution, the school management blamed the government for its existing state.
“The school is shut because of the government. They are not allowing us to restore it, but we are trying to restore it. However, a secure environment around the school is must, till then we can’t open it. The government is not letting us to build the walls around school,” said one of the management trustees of the school.
He also refuted the allegation of the teachers and claimed that they were paid salaries till floods.
In June, Minister of State for Education, Information & Culture Priya Sethi had visited the school and had emphasised the management and the administration to make efforts to restore the institution. However, till now, nothing has been done.
In the tussle between the government and the management DAV School might be confined to just another name in the educational history of Kashmir.