For over five months, ordinary Kashmiris have been living under a communications blockade. It was only in mid January that the Indian government partially restored the internet (social media remains & hundreds of sites remain blocked).
The communications and military siege on the region came following India’s abrogation of article-370, a law that secured Kashmir’s semi-autonomy (at least on paper) and had protected the demography of the Muslim-majority region for the past seven decades. It has impacted businesses, students and interrupted people’s lives.
It’s been nearly six months that students in Kashmir haven’t gone to school, making it one of the longest periods in Kashmir’s recent history that educational institutions have been shut. In this second installment of SWK’s Voices from Kashmir series, college student Binish Nisar talks about the frustrations and fear that students in the region are living with:
“I am 23-years-old. I had joined college in 2016 to pursue my undergraduate three-year degree in Arts. The degree was supposed to complete in March 2019. But in March 2016, when we were admitted in the college, we could not attend for months together and no exam was held for the whole year as Kashmir was burning after the killing of rebel commander Burhan Wani on July 8. My first semester exam was held after one year. There was a complete delay in everything.
This year I am in 5th semester and this is my fourth year in a degree that should have been completed in three years. The University of Kashmir, which is the largest institution of learning in Kashmir, had earlier said that the two semesters 5th and 6th would be held simultaneously. But that didn’t happen. If things go as they are now my degree is going to take me five years to complete.
This is the scenario of education in Kashmir. The Indian government is crushing our future. We are very frustrated and disturbed. We would be wasting another year as it is only in September we can have admission outside for higher studies.
I had applied in many universities in the United Kingdom in Arts. I received offer letters from four universities for my post-graduation. I could not even email the universities to defer offers or even apply for scholarships.
The internet blockade has been very suffocating. In these times when it is impossible for people to survive without internet, we have been deprived from this very basic right of access to information from the outside world. For students it is really stressing. Many students like me had their dreams and future plans dependent on the internet but we are very helpless.
If it takes five years to complete a three-year degree, imagine how long it would take us to finish studies, go for higher studies and then apply for a job. It is going to take us our whole life. The situation around is also not very good that we can concentrate. The whole thing is a struggle for survival. Many friends of mine are discouraged to continue their studies. They are in a dilemma — what to do?”