Highway ban disrupts education in Kashmir, causes ‘chaos and confusion’

Highway ban disrupts education in Kashmir, causes ‘chaos and confusion’
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Srinagar: Students and teachers have both been affected by the J&K government’s ban on civilian vehicles on the national highway, with many saying that they could not reach their institution on time, or at all, this Wednesday.
Several students at Kashmir University who have to travel from other districts of the valley could not attend their classes on Wednesday, they told Kashmir Reader.
“Our parents were apprehensive to let us go due to the ban,” a student from north Kashmir said.
The students said that the ban was only going to compound their academic loss “as we already have an off on Sunday and there is very less activity on Fridays due to prayers”.
With the highway ban unlikely to be revoked any time soon, Khurshid, a student from central Kashmir’s Budgam district who is studying for a masters in commerce at KU, said he feared that the syllabus wouldn’t be completed on time.
Post the highway ban, Khurshid said, “Now we have 3 days off in a week. Given the addition of courses in our programme this year, I think we won’t be able to complete the courses in time.”
Aamir, a resident of south Kashmir’s Pulwama and also pursuing M Com at KU, said he missed his classes on Wednesday due to the highway ban.
He said that aside from the ban, armed forces’ convoys block civilian traffic movement on other days, due to which students often reach late for their classes.
“Everybody hasn’t got a personal car. If you leave home 5 minutes late, you get late by half an hour as the civilian traffic is stopped by (government) forces at several places,” he said.
Although the university has managed bus passes for its students and staff on the day of the traffic ban, a faculty member from Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST) told Kashmir Reader that attendance was “thin” on Wednesday.
“For the faculty members who come in their own cars, the university has to first manage vehicle passes. And everyone is supposed to carry a pass,” he said. “Obviously, the academic work is getting affected.”
He added, “You are blocking a highway for civilian movement. It is not just about education, it is about every aspect of life. Anybody can have a major emergency.”
On the IUST’s vulnerability due to its proximity to the highway, the faculty member said, “All the routes are via the highway only. Apart from Wednesday, even on Monday there was convoy movement. They have not been able to regulate the convoys and there is no free civilian vehicles’ movement on other days as well.
“Due to the highway ban, visitors to the IUST have to plan their trips according to this new routine,” he said.
The IUST was in fact lucky to have obtained bus passes for students and staff on Wednesday. The SSM College of Engineering in north Kashmir’s Baramulla was not provided the passes by the district administration.
“The DC Baramulla right away ordered closing down of our college on Wednesday, even before we could ask for the passes,” a senior faculty member there told Kashmir Reader.
Wednesday’s highway ban affected class work at several schools across the valley as well, Chairman of the Private Schools Association J&K (PSAJK), GN Var said.
While there was thin attendance of students on the day, he said, staff at several schools who come by their own vehicle could not reach due to the restrictions.
Since the highway ban order, Var said, there was “chaos and confusion about who to approach among the authorities”.
Expressing concern at the repercussions of the traffic ban on students, Var said, “The students were literally terrorised. The restrictions will have a negative effect on their mental health. We have time and again maintained that education should not be politicised, but here it is only the government which has done this.”