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2018: Internet gagged 64 times in Kashmir; students worst affected

Bisma Bhat

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Srinagar, Dec 28: During 2018, the internet servicewas shut down as many as 64 times in Kashmir, with most of such instances taking place in the four districts to the south of the valley.

Notwithstanding the impact such shutdowns had on businesses and communication, they also adversely affected the pace and quality of academic endeavours of the students in Kashmir.

As has become a norm, authorities choke or shut entirely the internet services almost every time in districts where government forces launch cordon and search operations or engage in gun battles with the militants.

 

Given the intensity of such operations, the gag, at times, is extended to nearby districts or, worse, the entire valley.

Such frequent shutdown of the internet takes days, and at times, weeks to resume thus cutting off the affected student population from the world of information and knowledge that World Wide Web has on offer.

Zehra Yousuf, 25, a resident of village Chatapora of Pulwama district, finds it difficult to prepare for her upcoming recruitment test at Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Kashmir (SKUAST).

Zehrahas completed the first phase of the test and is due to sit for the next in January.

“I find it hard to study from any particular book since I have to cover a lot of syllabus. Internet is the only platform where I can find varied information. But the issue is that we don’t have internet every day.

“Life in south Kashmir is same as it was during the dark ages, we are cut off from rest of the state and the world,” she rued.

Zehrahas to face choking or suspension of internet services almost every second or third day.

“We are deprived of basic facilities here. Communication comes to a halt in south Kashmir very frequently and the student community has the worst sufferers,” she said.

Andleeb Mir, in her mid-twenties, a civil service aspirant from Shopian, has a complaint similar to Zehra.

Like thousands of other aspirants, Andleeb found it apt to study from video, audio and textual courses available on the internet for her exams.

These courses are devised mostly by those who have already cracked the exhaustive examinations and, as such, offer a lot of help to the aspirants.

But Andleeb’s focus takes a hit whenever internet services in her district (or even those nearby)are suspended.

“I really cannot afford any loss in my studies. If the situation remains the same, I may have to vacate from my home to stay in Srinagar,” said Andleeb.

Ambreen, a post graduate student told The Kashmir Monitor that she recently ordered a book from Amazon.in but it was cancelled as the internet was gagged for a whole week.

“Private courier services have almost vacated south Kashmir as they suffer huge losses due to the internet blockade. We have to order books and other things on our friends’ or relatives’ addresses in Srinagar,” says Ambreen.

Speaking to The Kashmir Monitor, Deputy Commissioner Pulwama, GM Dar said: “We will provide internet services to the needy students during internet blockade.”

“People can contact me directly if they need any kind of help and students from Pulwama need not look for internet anywhere, they can come to my office.”

Deputy Commissioner Shopian, Mohammad Owais, said that internet was suspended “due to security reasons and the same cannot be undermined.”

“I have constructed a library for female students where internet will be available for them and soon we will be constructing a similar library for male candidates,” he said.


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Kashmir

Scientific waste disposal continues to remain a challenge in Kashmir

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar, Jan 18: The authorities have not been able to strike a balance between the increased tourist inflow and the scientific disposal of garbage, official documents reveal.
“Being a popular tourist destination, issues pertaining to solid waste are on the rise in the state and need to be addressed immediately,” reveals the Housing and Urban Development (H&UD) department’s 2018 draft action plan for solid-waste management.
It says that sold waste generation has witnessed an increase of over 8 percent in a decade.
“The Central Pollution Control Board report estimates that a total of 400 metric tons of waste is generated per day in Srinagar, 62 percent of this waste is organic in nature while the remaining is inorganic including 7 percent of plastic waste,” reads the document.
An official of H&UD department said that given the rapid urbanization and growing population, this sector (waste management) needs immediate attention.
“The valley’s non-dumping options to manage waste have also shrunk drastically. Burning waste no longer seems viable because of environmental concerns and poor segregation of waste. Compost plants are not doing well because manure doesn’t sell, and again becomes garbage,” the official said.
With population of 12.36 lakh, spread over an area of 294 sq km on both sides of Jhelum, not even a single residential area or commercial establishment in Srinagar has the facility of segregation of solid waste, and much of the waste is dumped into water bodies including Dal Lake.
“Civic bodies blame residents for not segregating the waste but what’s the point when everything will eventually be mixed-up? Segregation by residents will only work when the municipal bodies have complete door-to-door waste collection system and trash pickups have separate containers for dry and wet waste,” the official added.
He said for segregation, greater civic awareness was a must.
“But municipalities must also set up the infrastructure and notify their solid-waste management policy under the 2016 rules. So far, it has remained confined to papers only,” the official said.
A recent report by NITI Aayog ‘Report of Working Group II, Sustainable Tourism in the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR)’ too revealed that waste management was a huge challenge in Jammu and Kashmir and will become much more threatening as the number of tourists grows.
J&K fares poorly, with 0.14 gm per capita per day solid waste generation, the second worst in IHR region after Mizoram.
The state has faced repeated censuring by National Green Tribunal.
J&K has witnessed a mushroom growth of tourism infrastructure around water bodies, with little or no concern for the former’s impact over the latter.

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Kashmir

90s massacres: Joint Hurriyat calls for shutdown on Jan 21, 25, and 27 in Kashmir parts

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Srinagar, Jan 18: The Joint Hurriyat Leadership on Friday called for shutdown in Gaw Kadal, Handwara and Kupwara to mark the anniversaries of three massacres that took place in January 1990 in these areas.
The Joint Hurriyat comprising Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Yasin Malik, in a statement asked people to observe complete shutdown in Gawkadal, Basant Bagh, Chota Bazar, Budshah Chowk and adjacent areas on January 21 (Monday).
It also asked people to observe shutdown in Handwara and Kupwara areas on January 25 and 27 respectively on Handwara and Kupwara massacres anniversaries.
“Carnage at Gaw Kadal, Handwara and Kupwara remind us of Indian brutal occupation and oppression. Illegal Military occupation followed by such massacres symbolizes callousness under the garb of so-called democracy. The nation of Kashmir is indebted to martyrs who laid down their lives for freedom and resistance leadership pledges to continue this struggle till the achievement of the sacred goal,” the statement said.
Joint Hurriyat said Kashmir is “indebted to martyrs who laid down their lives for freedom and resistance leadership pledges to continue this struggle till the achievement of the sacred goal.”
“Days like 21st, 25th and 27th January 1990 remind us of the sacrifices rendered by our dear ones. These are the days for reiteration of our commitment towards the sacred mission and today while recalling these great sacrifices we reiterate our pledge to take forward the task of martyrs till the achievement of the desired goal,” they said.

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Kashmir

Fruit growers, dealers association meets Governor

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Jammu, Jan 18: A delegation of The Kashmir Fruit Growers and Dealers Association, from Sopore led by its president F A Malik, met Governor Satya Pal Malik at the Raj Bhavan here on Friday.
The members of the delegation requested that the KCC loans of farmers be waived off on account of damage to the horticulture crops due to unexpected hailstorm.
They also requested that unhindered movement of fresh fruits outside the State be allowed.
“They also requested sanctioning of adequate funds for development of Fruit Mandi at Sopore; installation of High Mast Lights at Fruit Mandi Sopore and enroute from Sopore Bye-Pass to the Fruit Mandi; availability of quality pesticides and Tree Spray oils at genuine rates; construction of a fly over from Chakrodaykhan up to Hakim Sonaullah Hospital and Fruit Mandi; sanctioned railway track from Baramulla to Kupwara be routed from Amargarh Sopore station with a station in vicinity of Fruit Mandi; construction of a truck terminal at Tulball, Sopore and revival of juice plant at Doabgah,” a Raj Bhavan Spokesperson said.
Governor assured due consideration of their demands.

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