Students in Kashmir suffer as internet is suspended frequently during encounters
The frequent suspension of 2G internet services by authorities in Kashmir’s districts during gunfights between terrorists and security forces is causing huge problems for college and university students who nowadays are appearing for their online internal examinations.
The student community of the valley, already bearing the brunt of slow internet speed during the Covid-19 lockdown, is left high and dry by the authorities when they snap mobile internet whenever a gunfight starts in a particular district leaving the examination schedules in disarray.
When Majid Lone, an undergraduate student of Islamia College of Science and Commerce (ICSC) in Srinagar woke up on Sunday, he found there was no internet service on his mobile as an encounter had started in Zadibal area of the city. He got really worried as his internal exam was scheduled to be held online for the day.
“When I made some calls I came to know about the encounter and postponement of the exams. This is second time that the exam was postponed. Mobile internet was also suspended in south Kashmir on Thursday and Friday after encounters erupted there,” he said.
While three terrorists were killed in Zadibal encounter on Sunday, eight terrorists were killed on Thursday and Friday in two separate gun battles in south Kashmir’s Pulwama and Shopian districts. A terrorist was also killed in Kulgam on Saturday. Another encounter erupted in Anantnag on Monday.
The intensity of gun battles has increased in the past few months in Kashmir valley. So far at-least 106 terrorists have been killed this year across the valley of which 36 have been killed in June alone particularly in south Kashmir. More gun battles mean more instances of internet suspension in individual districts which means educational institutes have to either take exams of the affected district afresh or reschedule the whole process.
A computer science student of Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST) in Pulwama district said that their internal viva exams were going on online on Thursday when the internet suddenly snapped.
“Three students managed to give their viva exams when suddenly the teacher became offline. We were around 80 students waiting for our turns. The whole schedule got disrupted as the internet was restored on Saturday when the exams were held again,” she said.
When the lockdown was implemented in mid-March to stop the spread of coronavirus, student communities across the country took advantage of high speed internet to get in touch with their teachers and appeared for online classes. However the student communities in Jammu and Kashmir are an unfortunate lot as first they were cut off for months last year when internet was suspended following the revocation of special status of the region. When the internet was restored in January this year, the authorities decided to ban the high speed internet and allowed only 2G speeds.
IUST student Abrar Ahmad, who is doing his B.Tech in Electronics and Communication Engineering, said that the students of the valley suffer a lot due to internet issues.
“Already due to 2G, our online classes were in name only. Now our teachers decided to hold our internal exams online which will help them to asses our performance as proper examinations in the pandemic are very risky. But then day in and day out suspension of mobile internet is making it very cumbersome for the education fraternity,” Ahmad said.
“On Sunday our exams were scheduled but due to internet suspension that could not be held. Our next paper is on Tuesday, so the university authorities may squeeze in the rescheduled paper a day before or after which makes it very tiresome for us,” he said.
When HT attempted to ask government’s secretary for higher education Talat Parvez Rohella about the issue, his phone was switched off. Calls to divisional commissioner Kashmir, Pandurang K Pole did not yield any response.