SHOPIAN: Internet shutdown has badly affected students, job aspirants and the business class for almost a fortnight in South Kashmir’s district Shopian. The internet has remained suspended since April 30 in the wake of the gunfight at Drabgam village of Pulwama, in which two militants and a civilian were killed.
Later, on May 3, the internet was restored at 12 noon, but afterwards, at around 4 pm, another gunfight broke out in Turkwangam village of Shopian, and within six hours of its restoration, the internet was snapped once again. In the Turkwangam encounter, militants managed to escape from the gunfight, but a Class 9 student was killed some 700 metres from the encounter site and two other civilians sustained bullet injuries. The internet remained snapped till another gunfight broke out at Badigam village, in which five civilians and five militants, including commander Sadam Padder, got killed. Later, another civilian succumbed at the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital, Srinagar, and internet suspension continued till the evening of May 14.
Students and job aspirants living in the district speak of the government as having a step-motherly attitude. They said the government is adding to the people’s sufferings by its continuous crackdowns on the internet, rather than solving the issues that precipitate them. “Recently, Directorate of Lifelong Learning, University of Kashmir, offered almost 30 seats for short-hand courses, for which ten days’ time was given for submission of forms, but till date we have no other information about them because the internet has been off in the district since then,” said Mubashir Ahmad, a student keen on enrolling in the said course.
Similarly, people preparing for job-oriented examinations face the same problems. “The government has given a vast syllabus for teacher examinations, but here in Shopian, the internet remains down for most of the time and we have no opportunity to access it. This time, broadband services remained snapped in the district for more than 10 days,” said Shamim Ahmad Bhat who is preparing for the teacher’s exam.
A group of students from Shopian also told Kashmir Reader they were facing huge problems due to the continuous breakdown of the district’s internet services. “Due to the internet ban in our district, I have apprehensions that we may fail in the different forthcoming exams,” said job aspirant Muhammad Arif Bhat.
The internet in Shopian has been suspended for 48 days in the district this year and for all 15 days of this month, as also one day last month. Locals said that their phone bills are wasted because the government’s snapping internet services in the district on every incident, that too for an extended period.
A senior police officer based in Srinagar told Kashmir Reader that they regret the inconvenience faced by people. “Internet services will be restored soon, I mean as soon as possible. It will depend on the recommendation from the District Superintendent of Police and if there was a situation in the district. However, it will be normal very soon,” he said.
Earlier, district Shopian has observed protest shutdowns of 15 days since 27 April and for 51 days this year.