‘Don’t even think about it’: Alumni of one of Kashmir’s oldest schools criticise call for relocation

In the heart of the commercial district of Srinagar, one of the oldest schools in Kashmir where some of the most prominent people in the valley have been studied.

The Tyndale Biscoe-boys School was created in 1880, while its Women’s Wing, Mallinson School was established in 1912.

Both schools are 10.6 acres of land rented by the Sheikh Bagh government, in the heart of Srinagar. They have two branches – one in Baramulla founded in 1996 and another in Budgam established in 2003.

But now it is no longer a threat to schools in Srinagar. Merchants who have businesses in the area adjacent to the institutions demanded that they be transferred to the outskirts of town due to congestion caused by their students and school buses affecting businesses.

This caused consternation between the administration and alumni of both schools and led a former student to initiate an online petition to the State Government, the Development Authority of Srinagar Municipal Corporation Srinagar to protest against this measure.

The study trip request was an “attack on history and heritage,” said Hadhiq Khan, an engineering graduate and former student at Biscoe, who initiated the petition earlier this month. “Half of Kashmir is emotionally connected to Biscoe,” he said. “No one should think about it.”

Parvez Samuel Koul, CEO and director of schools, said institutions were created decades before markets are produced in the area. “The area called Lal Chowk was not there,” he said. “It was the jungle everywhere.”

Today, important and busy markets around schools. “All the shops around us are mostly invasions,” Kul said. “They parked their own vehicles there and then a cradle in the congestion.”

Kul said that 30 merchants in the immediate vicinity of schools who had expressed concern about congestion were not aware of the indirect benefits institutions have made to their businesses.

“Some 6,000 to 7,000 parents connect to the school, visit the area and bring them back, although 20% and 30% are purchases,” he said. “Their children are studying in this school. They need to know what education is.”

“The heritage can not be rebuilt,” Kul said. “It is not so simple, the lost heritage is lost, this school has developed for more than 130 years, people put their sincere efforts, so the school has become so great and meaningful for society.”

Yasin Khan, chairman of the Federation of Merchants and Manufacturers of Kashmir, said that the relocation proposal was made by the state authorities in Srinagar Master Plan 2015-2035.

The plan proposes the development of the Lal Chowk area near the Tyndale-Biscoe and Mallinson schools as a tourist center.

“Some traders may have raised concerns about their businesses because of traffic jams,” said Yasin Khan. “The government has kept this [relocation] in its master plan to address the problem of traffic and congestion in the city.”

In February, Division Commissioner Asgar Samoon told the newspaper Kashmir that the issue of relocation of schools is “limited to the level of implementation.”

So far, the online petition has won more than 800 signatures. Once the goal of 1,000 signatures is reached, Hadhiq Khan plans to present in person at the Srinagar Development Authority.

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