Editorial

HOPE Classes Incident: Kashmiri Scholars open up about the humiliations they faced in schools

The “Hope Classes” incident triggered a lot of supressed memories from school for a lot of people in Kashmir and gave courage to the present day scholars to speak out against a system of harassment that children go through from an early age.

Post the incident that went viral on social media, many Kashmiri students opened up about how they were shamed in school especially by facing the menace of corporal punishments.

Particularly former students went bersek about the video that went viral on social media in which a teacher can be seen ruthlessly beating a student in one of private coaching centres in Srinagar Kashmir.

“I still remember the torture by some of my teachers who would literally skin a student with tender willow twigs, redden the buttocks and naked back with ‘atte shalakh’ and poison ivy exposure, boot kicks and slap thrashing.
A teacher who smashed my skull to a wall for not reciting the morning prayer loudly in my school, a principal who would beat students with a hockey merely for roaming around during breaks (one incident left a girl’s frock slashed open resulting in a student protest, tear gas shelling on the protesters, an FIR against the student representative, transfer of the said Principal and a lot of follow-up mayhem) in my college, and a Chemistry prof slapping master students without caring for the age or stage that rendered me say a goodbye to Kashmir University and the master’s in chemistry degree. I can never forget these teachers of mine. The only thing these incidents left on me are horrific memories. None of these incidents helped me in my career,” Said a Kashmiri Facebook user namely Shabir Hassan who is presently a faculty member at Harvard Medical School.

“I still remember many (tafteesh)- Punishment at primary, middle and even at high school level.
During morning prayers, teachers used to humiliate us infront of a huge gathering just for remaining absent for 1 day.
If u miss morning assembly or come late again you will be punished (tendon marr).
If u speak loudly in class again kann pakdi (murģa banoo),” Said another Facebook user Gulzar Nayik who is a Food Technologist and an author.

“During an issue in our school one of the teacher used abusive language with me, I remember how I picked up the plastic stool in my hand and threw it to the office wall in protest. And what was his response – more abuses and ‘keashir haml e damal’ to fight with me. This is all what we know about anger issues!,” wrote Perveiz Ali, a renowned author and owner of a publishing house.

Waseem A. Malla, a research fellow at Indian Veterinary Research Institute wrote, “Corporal punishment of children, at the hands of parents/teachers/elders, is a concept that is religiously followed and revered in this part of the world. No matter what the world thinks about it, we will always find ways to defend the indefensible as if it is the only way to make our kids disciplined.”

Ashaq Hussain Parray, a research scholar at Aligarh Muslim University writes, “On the corporal punishment row in Kashmir. Just sharing only the tip of an iceberg of what we, the lesser children of God, faced in government schools. We were 60 students in middle school Tergam. Our teachers would order us to gift them cereals, cucumbers, vegetables besides bring daily bread from the shops. I still dread that period of my life. Every day we would be put through soi shalak (nettle punishment), made to walk two KMS in kan-pakdi shape (quadruped posture) back and forth while we would receive the harshest lashes on our butts, back and even head. A rope would be tied to one of our classmates and then he would be dragged to a nearby ditch to scare him to death. For the first six years, all of us would piss in our pants every day because of the fear teachers had induced in us. 
Such teachers are not God-sent angels but power-hungry hooligans who make a living out of the sufferings of their students. Teacher-taught relationship has been wrongly conceived as a sacred relation when it is actually a powerful-powerless binary and should be conceived in purely these terms. We have, especially in Kashmir, deified this relationship and we immediately need to shun it, the sooner we do it, the better.”

It is pertinent to mention that a video showing a teacher repeatedly slapping a student at a coaching centre in Srinagar had gone viral, provoked outrage and prompted police to register a case.

In the 44-second video, the teacher, Fayaz Ahmad, was seen slapping the student repeatedly at the centre. Fayaz was apparently angry that the student had not asked for his permission though it was unclear for what.

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