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

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 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.