Coaching Centres Association (CCA) of Kashmir Tuesday decided to go on a two day strike all over the valley incase government doesn’t stop undue harassment of coaching centres.
“By imposing new taxes, raiding coaching centres and cold storing its own guidelines, the state government has made the working of coaching centres difficult and costly for students,” said Lateef Masoodi, Spokesman CCA. “To protest against the government policy towards coaching centers we have decided to go on general strike for two days (Jan 28, 29).”
The association accused the government of employing different tactics to close the private coaching centers. “Ours is the only sector that is being raided by police, tax men, officials of education department and district administrations,” said Masoodi. “They don’t register us, term us illegals and then raid us on one pretext or another. It is contempt to education and a case of pure harassment.”
“Every now and then the officials and policemen raid the premises of coaching centres on one pretext or other,” said Lateef Masoodi, SpokesmanCCA. “They do it without any jurisdiction. There is a set procedure wherein officials nominated by Director Education can check the coaching centres but nowhere is written that policemen or even other administrative officials can raid.”
The association termed it as a pure harassment as policemen barge into coaching centres with girls full of classroom. “We are never against any law but everything has a SOP which needs to be followed,” said Masoodi.
The government had framed rules vide order No: 435-Edi of 2010 dated April 30, 2010 under the Regulation of Private Coaching Centre Rules, 2010, to regulate the functioning/performance of private coaching centres in the state. “But it is the government that is not implementing the rules even as we are ready,” said Masoodi.
“In residential areas they shut our coaching centres saying that we are not allowed in residential areas and when we start functioning in commercial areas they shut our premises by saying that coaching centres can’t function in commercial areas as it is noisy here,” said Masoodi. “In such a case they should tell us where to function and where not to?”
The association claimed that government seems to be undecided whether to declare coaching centres as an industry or a social service. “Without registration they are asking us to pay 10.5 percent service tax as an industry and also provide free education to 10 percent of the enrolled students as a social service,” said Masoodi. “That amounts to 20.5 percent of cost escalation in private coaching fee for students and post floods when the economic condition of students has deteriorated the quality private education will be unaffordable to majority of students.”
The association asked the government to decide between the two options- “declare us industry and we will pay tax. But then as an industry we can’t provide free education or declare us social service and we will happily provide free education. In that case government can’t force tax on social service sector.”
“The irony is that the government wants to tax us as an industry and force us to provide free education as a social service,” said Masoodi. “Nowhere in India is such a bizarre policy under implementation. It simply means that the government wants to shutdown the coaching institutes of Kashmir valley.”
The association asked the government why such rules are not being followed in Jammu and Ladakh regions, and only coaching centres of Kashmir are made scape-goats. “Every year during the mid-academic session government rakes this issue in Kashmir only, whereas for the whole year they remain deaf to our pleas for implementation of guidelines,” said Masoodi.