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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

Restoration of Srinagar roads to begin this week: DC

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Srinagar, Apr 21 : Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, Sunday said that restoration work of roads across the district damaged during snow-clearance operations this past winter will start this week.

The DC who was speaking in a meeting with Superintending Engineers and Executive Engineers of the Public Works Department said the delay in repairing of roads resulted from the strike by contractors.

He said some 30 roads totalling over 60 kilometres of road length from across the district will be repaired adding that funds therefor have been released to the concerned agencies.

 

The concerned officers have been instructed to devote all efforts required and ensure completion of the road restoration work within the shortest time possible.

The DC while stating that the government recognises and is addressing the issues of the contractors said stringent of actions as warranted under the law will be taken against attempts at creating hinderances in the restoration work.

He said hinderances therein will be seen as attempts at causing public nuisance and inconvenience and that criminal proceedings will be initiated against offenders without second thoughts.

Dr Shahid who is also the District Election Officer of the Srinagar district said clearance on account of the Model Code of Conduct has been accorded for initiation of developmental works with special focus being on the roads.

Joint Director Planning M Yaseen Lone and Superintending Engineers Roads & Buildings and Circular Road Project Srinagar and Executive Engineers Construction Division-I, Construction Division-II, Left River Circular Road, Right River Circular Road, City Roads, Landscaping Division, Truck Terminal Division and Project Circle Division were all present in the meeting.

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Kashmir

Article 370 bridge between J&K and Centre: Mir

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Srinagar, Apr 21: J&K Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) President and party candidate from Anantnag Lok Sabha Parliamentary Constituency G A Mir on Sunday said that Article 370 reflects the unique identity of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, working as bridge between State and Centre.
“Congress Party will take all measures to safeguard the special status, won’t allow BJP to play with the emotions of the people, for the fact, the Special Status granted to J&K under Constitutions of India has emotional binding with the people, any attempt to dilute it will be thwarted,” Mir said while addressing public meetings at Halsidar, Halan, Dooru Ziyarat and at Historic Lal Chowk in Anantnag town.
Taking a jibe at BJP for raking up 370 issues for electoral gains, Mir said that, “BJP knows that the Article cannot be tinkered because of its permanency and supremacy, whatever Narindar Modi or Amit Shah, say with regard to the issue during their election rallies were based on lies and deceit to mislead people of the Country,” he said.
G.A Mir added and appealed people of Anantnag to ensure his victory with a thumping majority to ensure that communal and fascist forces, besides the opportunist political fronts in J&K are defeated.
He appealed people not to miss the opportunity of the present elections to defeat BJP-RSS menace, which have been dreaming to abrogate Article 370 once they get the clear majority and sought people support to defend the special status of the State from being eroded.
G.A. Mir said PDP which has failed people on all fronts even got the By-Elections to Anantnag Lok Sabha tactfully cancelled to evade defeat besides satisfying the BJP RSS because the communal forces were afraid of Congress Party’s victory, now this opportunist Party (PDP) was again trying to mislead people of south Kashmir for electoral gains, but at the same time, Mir felt confident that people of Anantnag will come out on 23rd April to cast their vote in favour of Congress Party to ensure that communal forces and their old friends were kept at bay, he said.
It is our ultimate goal to serve people and ensure their safety and development, we (Congress Party) will not be cowed down by the falsehood of PDP BJP and other opportunist Parties and will continue to serve people to the best of our ability, besides safeguarding the special status of the State, although Congress Party was the architect of Art 370 35A granting special status to J&K, but this time the party has reiterated its commitment which the Party has declared in its poll manifesto, G.A. Mir said .

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Geelani calls for election boycott, shutdown in Anantnag on Apr 23

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Srinagar, Apr 21: Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman, Syed Ali Geelani on Sunday urged people to boycott polls and observe shutdown on April 23 in Anantnag.
“Participation in elections, amounts to “betrayal of the sacred blood of martyrs and disrespect towards those who were deprived of their belongings, lost eyesight and those who while ruthless killed, arrested, economically strangulated, caged, enforced demographic changes through judicial onslaught just to cement the illegal forced occupation,” Geelani said in a statement.
He wanted people to stand united in defeating the nefarious designs of the oppressor and completely boycott the elections as they did in Srinagar, which will have very positive and encouraging effect on the ongoing movement, as Indian imperialistic mindset is portraying these elections as a substitute to our right to self-determination and always tries to hoodwink the Indian people & international community.
In a statement issued, Hurriyat (G) chairman further said that those who participate in elections and seeking votes from people have an unending lust of power and wealth, which increases with each passing day. They are nothing, but the worst enemies of our nation as they act as the collaborators of the oppressor just for their personnel gains. It is their lust for power and follies sponsored by these corroborators that justifies the enforced occupation, He said.
He said that we have invested mighty human material and every person, family and region has its own contribution which legalizes and compels the stakeholders not to let these precious sacrifices go waste.
Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman said that our occupier is not only brutal but cunning as well. Votes on basic necessities and daily needs are being portrayed as endorsement for their forced occupation.
Elaborating leadership said, that we should convey a strong message to world community that Jammu and Kashmir is a political dispute and the election drama being staged in the territory by India cannot be an alternative to the right to self-determination for people in Jammu & Kashmir.

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