Attacks making mockery of ‘zone of peace’ declaration

Kathmandu, September 20

The government’s declaration of schools as a ‘zone of peace’ has become a mockery with political and criminal groups attacking schools to get their demands fulfilled.

Political activities, protests and strikes are prohibited on school premises and its surroundings, but most student unions, teachers associations and political outfits have been making schools the target of their attacks, violating students right to study in a peaceful environment.

Today’s explosions in schools in the Valley is deeply saddening and utterly condemnable.

The Cabinet on May 25, 2011 had declared schools as zone of peace to ensure students’ right to study in a peaceful and safe environment. It has been more than five years but students continue to bear the burnt of protests, strikes and other violent activities.

Following coordinated explosions in schools, some of the schools were closed, while others resumed their classes after bombs were defused by a bomb disposal squad from the Nepali Army.

It is learnt that cadres of Maoist Communist Centre led by Debendra Mahato had tried to create terror in schools to bargain with school administration for donation. In a similar incident in July, a school bus of Ideal Model School was torched in Dallu.

Whatever the reason behind the bombings, it cannot be justified on any pretext. The incidents have created terror among students, guardians and teachers.

Suprabhat Bhandari, president, Guardian’s Association of Nepal, said planting of bombs in schools was an act of terror. “Targeting innocent children for whatsoever cause cannot be justified on any pretext. The perpetrators should be strongly punished.”

Meanwhile, umbrella organisations of private schools and colleges—Private and Boarding Schools Organisation Nepal, National Private and Boarding Schools Association Nepal and Higher Secondary Schools Association Nepal have warned of protests if the government failed to take action against those behind the bombings.

Ramesh Silwal, president, HISSAN, said bombing in schools was a criminal activity. He said the incidents took place due to weaknesses of the Ministry of Education. Silwal also urged all parties to stop expansion of sister wings in schools.

Lachhe Bahadur KC, president, PABSON, said, “Today’s explosions in schools is a very saddening. The government should not spare those behind the attacks,” he added. Education ministry’s silence at a time when political groups are terrorising schools is very unfortunate, said Karna Bahadur Shahi, president, NPABSAN.

Later, representatives from HISSAN, PABSON and NPABSAN visited education minister to exert pressure on government to take action against those trying to hurt innocent students for their vested interests.

Dr Hari Lamsal, spokesperson, MoE, assured that the ministry will do everything possible to ensure peaceful learning environment in schools.