As the internet gag continues for over 100 days in Jammu and Kashmir, hundreds of members of the Students’ Educational Movement Kargil (SEMOK) protested against the government’s decision on November 26. The internet ban was imposed 116 days back after stripping the autonomy of the erstwhile state on August 5.
The resentment of the students as well as youngsters who had gathered there was visible as they held placards reading - “From 5th August We are Without Internet; Kargil in Dark Age; Students are Suffering Why Block Internet; Where is Digital India?; Restore Internet in Kargil.”
It should be noted that Leh and Kargil remain cut-off from the rest of the country for almost six months in winters due to heavy snowfall. In such a situation, internet is the single most important form of communication and the ban has come as a bane for the residents of this region, especially for students.
“We feel helpless. Our studies are getting affected without internet,” said a 24-year-old boy from Kargil, who wanted to remain anonymous.
Several students claimed that they are unable to fill examination forms and were not up-to-date with the latest notifications regarding these exams. “We can’t do anything without internet. We can’t apply for jobs. When they say digital India, it means that for everything, even the smallest of things, we rely on internet. How is it possible to work without internet in ‘digital India’? Students have missed updates for IGNOU’s (Indira Gandhi National Open University’s) online examination. Few students have applied offline. For other students, their one year is wasted. There is NET (National Eligibility Test) examination too. Students are missing out on updates because of which they have to heavy price like missing their examination, even lose one year of education. That’s why we are protesting,” Jawaid, one of the protesting students, told NewsClick.
Besides education loss, the clampdown has also adversely affected the economy in entire Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. Thousands of residents including farmers and businessmen are suffering. Apricot farmers were unable to sell their produce of dried apricots because of the civil shutdown in Kashmir. People of Kargil believe that are caught between civil shutdown in Kashmir and severe restrictions from the government of India.
“On one side, government says situation is normal in Kashmir. But at the same time, they have blocked internet in Jammu, Kashmir and Kargil. One fails to understand what kind of normalcy is this. Another thing is that many students from Kargil who study at Kashmir University are unable to continue with their classes as they are dependent on the internet to keep them updated about the examination and forms. So, we request government of India to restore the internet as soon as possible as it is affecting the students badly,” said Sajjad Hussain, a prominent activist from Kargil.
Bar Association Kargil Expresses
The Bar Association Kargil held a press conference at Press Club Kargil regarding the discriminatory approach of the secretary of Lieutenant Governor of Administration UT Ladakh Swagat Biswash. The Bar Association has submitted a memorandum of grievances to the governor. The demands include, establishment of consumer court in Kargil, establishment of high court for administration of UT Ladakh, functional district jail Kargil, appointment of public persecutor and standing counsel and the registrations powers of documents to remain in court premises so that transparency remains intact.
The Bar Association said in a statement, “The demands are all for the sake and benefit of public at large which the present administration has ignored complete. Hence, we, the Bar Association Kargil, strongly register our resentment towards the concerned authority.”