Students, traders in distress due to internet blockade in Shopian, Pulwama

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NET, GATE deadlines nearly over

SHOPIAN: Gone are days when education and business activities were not dependent on internet. Nowadays, from submitting forms for competitive examinations to making bookings with traders, all activities are carried out online. The impact of long internet blackouts, as seen in south Kashmir districts, can thus only be imagined.
With only two days left for the online application deadline for National Eligibility Test (NET) and Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE), hundreds of aspirants from Shopian and Pulwama districts are in distress, with the internet cut off for a week now.
The mobile internet was shut down in Shopian and Pulwama on 22 September after circulation of resignation videos of policemen on social media platforms.
“I am waiting for a week to submit my form for NET examinations but those in power have broadband facilities for their children, while the children of poor are reeling under the gag,” laments Muntazir Ahmad Bhat, who wants to sit for NET examinations.
For orchadists, the internet gag is, similarly impacting the business, at the time of apple harvest.
“They (officials) say one thing and do another. On TV they say they have revolutionised the horticulture sector but I want to tell the world that these people kill not only with bullets but through every possible means,” a trader from Arhama Mandi of Shopian aghast at the internet gag, said. He said they were facing heavy losses because of the internet outage.
Another trader explained that times have changed, which the government should understand.
“We used to sell our produce from even from orchards while displaying the samples through mail, Whatsapp and Facebook platforms but with the gag on internet we are not able to do it, resulting in losses. There are lesser buyers, and stocks of apple are lying in mandies and orchards due to the fall in rates,” said Manzoor Ahmad, a trader based in Pach-hard Mandi of Pulwama.
Various scholarship schemes by Government of India for the economically backward classes are also getting affected as students are not able to submit their forms and documents. The date of submission was extended for some time.
“No value of extending the date, since the internet is still not working here,” a class XII student hailing from Keller belt of the district Shopian said.
A group of students in Pulwama town looking for broadband network remarked that nations provide free internet services for education to students.
“And here India is barring these services despite payment of heavy bills to the network providers,” a student Imran Akhter said. He said many students travelled to Srinagar for submission of forms.
A senior police officer based in south Kashmir expressed ignorance about the restoration of internet services in Shopian and Pulwama.
“I have no information about it,” he said.
Deputy Inspector General of Police, Amit Kumar could be reached despite repeated calls.
The two districts have witnessed internet outages for more than 60 days this year, with the current one running on for a week.