By Jazib Bhat
Srinagar, Dec 31: As Kashmir Wednesday completed 150 straight days of internet blockade – the longest ever in the world – academic researchers have been among the most frustrated lot in the valley.
Internet was withdrawn on August 5 when Centre abrogated Article 370 and downgraded the state into two union territories – J&K, and Ladakh. Hundreds and fifty days on, no one has a clue when the government is planning to restore this all-important facility.
Internet gag however has badly hit the research with scores of scholars at the University of Kashmir saying that their work has, more or less, come to a grinding halt.
Official figures reveal that there are more than 1400 scholars currently enrolled in the University. Majority of them are finding it difficult to continue their research because of the ongoing blockade.
“It has been a psychological trauma for us as we fear that our researches will not be completed on time”, said Mohammad Yunis, who is pursuing PHD in Mass Communications at Kashmir University.
Sadaf, a scholar in Botany, said she might have to devote one more year for research before completing her doctorate.
“Travelling in shutdowns is difficult for women. Had internet been working, all data analysis could have been done at home,” she said.
Another scholar Jasfeeda Qadir had to travel to New Delhi to collect details for her research synopsis.
“I had to travel to New Delhi for my research. It is easier to find data on e-books and journals rather than finding books in libraries, which consumes a lot of time”, said Jasfeeda.
Dr. Gowher Ahmad Shappoo, a senior research scholar at Kashmir University, said access to internet is like oxygen for a researcher. “Education and health sector have suffered immensely due to internet clampdown,” he said.
Internet though was restored at Iqbal library recently, yet it takes hours for people to access the facility given the huge rush.
“There are hundreds of scholars waiting in queue just to access internet”, said Sadaf.
Even some of the scholars couldn’t attend seminars and conferences because they were not able to access communiqués and invitations. “Seminars and conferences are important for our researches. I have not able to know the dates of these seminars” says Mohammed Yunis.
Dean, research, Kashmir University, Zahoor Ahmad Reshi was not available for comments.