CCTV cameras to scan student activities in Valley colleges

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Srinagar: Colleges across Kashmir have started to install closed circuit television cameras to “keep a track on student activities in the campuses” — an initiative that has drawn flak from students and academics alike.

While a few college principals are downplaying the issue saying it was being done to “streamline education system”, students and academics say there is more to it than meets the eye. The CCTV cameras, according to highly placed sources, are being installed in all Valley colleges on recommendations of a government-constituted expert panel.
The Principal, Amar Singh College, Srinagar, Zahoor Ahmad said the CCTV cameras would perform many functions. “All colleges have started to install the cameras. The objective is to protect the property of the colleges and keep a close eye on the student activities in the campuses,” he said.
Ahmad said a camera has been installed at the Amar Singh College. “It would be made functional in a week or so,” he confirmed.
Kashmir University’s Dean College Development Council Prof Mushtaq Ahmad Kaw said the installation of CCTV cameras has become common nowadays and has also been tried in colleges.
The Valley colleges have been asked to install CCTV cameras with fish-eye lenses that cover an area at 180 degrees. “Such lenses ensure identification of persons under 180 degree ambit. This type of CCTV camera has been tried in almost all the educational institutions in India and outside. Even the recordings of happenings are also stored for viewing, as and when required,” said an official at KU’s Directorate of Information Technology.
The facility would also be installed in 39 affiliated and 11 constituent colleges of Kashmir University.
The official arguments, however, have drawn flak from students and academics. “It is unfortunate that the academic institutions are not kept out of the ambit of politics. There is no need to have such facilities in academic institutions,” said a group of students from Amar Singh College. “It is simple intrusion in academic lives of people. There has been no incident of riots in Valley colleges. It is just that the government is viewing students with suspicion, which is unfortunate.”

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