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Sewa Bharati of RSS establishes 1250 schools in Kashmir teaching Muslim students the true value of Kashmiriyat, keeping them away from stone-pelting: Report

The 1,250 Ekal Vidyalayas are dispersed over ten districts in Kashmir Valley including 180 such schools in Baramulla, which has been the site of multiple terror attacks on civilians and security forces.

On 28th March, an exclusive report by News18 revealed that Sewa Bharati which is an affiliate organization of the Rashtriya Swayasevak Sangh (RSS) has done an extraordinary job in the Kashmir valley by establishing 1250 schools and teaching them the importance of patriotism and ‘Bharatiyata’. The organization which is believed to be an educational initiative of the RSS, affiliated to the Ekal Vidyalaya Abhiyan project teaches students, 95% of whom are Muslims, the true values of ‘Hindustani’, ‘Bharatiyata’, and ‘Kashmiriyat’.

The 1,250 Ekal Vidyalayas (an informal school education system) are dispersed over ten districts in Kashmir Valley including 180 such schools in Baramulla, which has been the site of multiple terror attacks on civilians and security forces. According to data accessible by the organization, the Valley has seen a 53% increase in the number of Ekal Vidyalayas since 2022, from 800 to 1,250 in the last two years.

Violence experienced in the valley due to the project

As per the report by News18, the schools run by the organization house Muslim students, primarily girls. Also, the teachers at the said schools are Muslims who teach the students along with the Aviyan Pramukhs (project in-charges). Further, the schools are supervised by village committees and the primary objective of the project seems to be to teach students the true values of ‘Kashmiriyat’, ‘desh prem’, duties of being a ‘Hindustani’, and protecting them from joining the stone-pelters.

“The medium of teaching is Kashmiri and Urdu. We do not want our children to become stone pelters or join groups of terrorists. We do not want them to indulge in drug addiction,” one of the local officials associated with the project was quoted as saying by News18.

“Over the last five years, no Ekal Vidyalaya student in Baramulla district has dropped out or joined the stone-pelters for money. They are all proud Hindustani Muslims. We teach them the Quran here, and we have never received a negative reaction from the organization,” he added.

The official also added that some of the radicals in the rally have been opposing the project and terming it a conspiracy. The valley has also experienced violence due to the project, the project went on to change the lives of children with the help and support of local administration and village panchayats.

Local Kashmiris are the young members in charge of the entire system. They refer to the project as their “fight to save Kashmiriyat”. Ekal Vidyalayas have been operating in the region for over a decade, but they have gotten a resounding response and support from the community in the last five to six years.

Even if senior members of the state committees refuse to link the increase in numbers to the repeal of Article 370 parts, they argue that society and locals are seeing a shift as they connect with the concept of national integration.

Women teachers from minorities teaching nationalist ideas

According to a senior member of the group, PM Narendra Modi’s Viksit Bharat Viksit Jammu-Kashmir event last month drew a large crowd, demonstrating the transformation in Kashmiri culture.

The Ekal Vidyalaya Abhiyan runs the schools through a four-tier system that includes Anchal Abhiyan Pramukh (area head), Prashikshan Pramukh (teaching head), Mulyankan Pramukh (evaluation head), and Jagaran Pramukh (campaign head). According to the senior member, all of these roles are filled by Kashmiri Muslims who volunteer to “fight for Kashmiriyat”.

Women make up around 70% of all teachers. The schools follow the J&K general education system’s curricula. “Some children come from the villages where there are no formal schools, while others come from very poor families who cannot afford the school education system,” one of the female teachers was quoted as saying.

“We try to provide primary and post-primary education to the kids. Apart from the general subjects, we teach about nationalist ideas and have a special subject called Kashmiriyat. We also teach them about the history of the region,” she added.

The students in the school celebrate Independence Day, Republic Day, and all other major local and national festivals.

Sewa Bharati intends to establish more than one school in each village

According to the Ekal Vidyalaya Abhiyan’s most recent annual report for 2021-22, the organization operated these schools in 480 villages across the Kashmir valley until 2022. There could be more than one school in each village. In 2021-22, the charity collected Rs 129 crore in domestic donations and Rs 44 crore from international contributors.

“Ekal emphasizes through its school curriculum, student enrolment, volunteers’ selection, and other operating practices with equal respect for all religious faiths. Due emphasis is placed on local cultural heritage to consolidate a sense of pride and self-respect. The fact that Ekal Vidyalaya runs in 480 villages of Kashmir valley, which is exclusively inhabited by Muslims and similarly in several villages of Tamil Nadu and Kerala which are predominantly Muslim or Christian, is testimony to such true secular practice,” the report stated.

Manmohan Vaidya, a prominent Sangh functionary, and joint general secretary, stated at a meeting of the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS), the RSS’s highest decision-making body, this month that the minorities are becoming more involved with the organisation.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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