The Jammu District Magistrate on Tuesday ordered the closure of all 174 schools in the region near India’s border with Pakistan, ANI reported. Forty-five schools in the Samba district were shut down, while 84 schools in the Balakot zone of the Poonch district were closed, according to the report.
The closures come after the burning of at least 25 schools in Jammu and Kashmir because of unrest in the Kashmir Valley, which began after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani on July 8. Wani’s father Muzaffar Wani expressed “deep pain” because of the burnings and appealed to people to not target educational institutions, according to PTI. “As a teacher, whenever a school is burnt down, my heart is set on fire,” he said.
Repeated ceasefire violations and cross-border firing between India and Pakistan may have also contributed to the closure of the schools. At least seven people were killed in cross-border firing in the Samba district on Tuesday, with several other residents of border villages sustaining injuries after getting caught in the exchange of fire in the Rajouri district’s Naushera sector as well as in the RS Pura district’s Arnia sector.
Meanwhile, Indian Deputy High Commissioner to Pakistan JP Singh was summoned by Islamabad’s foreign office on the issue of civilian deaths across the border. Singh reportedly responded to the foreign office’s allegations by informing Pakistani officials about civilian deaths on the Indian side of the border. The diplomatic exchange came even as Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh called a high level meeting, which was attended by Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and senior officials from Rajnath’s ministry.
More than 90 people have been killed in unrest in the Valley following Wani’s killing. Hundreds have sustained grievous injuries during protestsin the past three months. The situation in the state has also led to a deterioration in relations between India and Pakistan. Reports of ceasefire violations by Pakistan have increased since the Indian Army conducted surgical strikes along the Line of Control on September 29.