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Communication blockade in J&K: Scientists step in to assist students who missed deadlines

Kashmiri students and fellow students sit inside a mock cage to protest against the withdrawal of special status for J&K during a demonstration in New Delhi.   | Photo Credit: AFP

The communication blockade in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) has affected many students and research scholars from the State who have missed deadlines for online applications for courses and scholarships in foreign universities. A Kashmiri scientist based in the U.S. and an Indian scientist here are coordinating to help the candidates tide over the crisis amid the prolonged Internet shutdown in the Kashmir Valley.

Syed Mubarak Hussain, a U.S.-based neuroscientist and the founder-director of JKScientists, a group representing over 7,000 students, scientists, and engineers from the State, said the blockade had affected the semesters in the university and colleges.

Mr. Hussain said Professor L.S. Shashidhara of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) had stepped in to help many students by writing to colleges and universities.

“Some students were selected by the China Scholarship Council. They faced problems as they couldn’t get their visa documents processed in time and missed the admission deadline that was in the first week of September. Their admission was almost confirmed but they lost the opportunity due to the communication blockade,” Mr. Hussain said.

Professor Shashidhara said there were a large number of students who needed help.

“I wrote to the concerned college or university asking them to hold the seat for the students as they couldn’t report on time or inform the authorities about the delay. There were some who couldn’t deposit fees. It was just to put in a word to the right people so that the student doesn’t lose a precious year,” said Professor Shashidhara, currently with Ashoka University. He added that once he got the details of the students from Mr. Hussain, it was easier for him to write to the institution concerned and explain the situation.

Internet and mobile connections have been suspended in the Valley since August 5 when two Bills to revoke the special status of J&K under Article 370 and bifurcate the State into two Union Territories, were introduced in the Rajya Sabha. Landlines have been progressively restored from August 16.

In Jammu region, mobile connectivity has been restored. Internet can be only accessed through kiosks set up by government in Srinagar and, in Jammu, Internet services are available through broadband connections.

Mr. Hussain said some IT companies in the Rangreth Industrial Area in Budgam district that employed more than 1,500 engineers, had decided to relocate following the communication blockade, leaving many workers on the brink of losing their jobs.

“Since the students living in other parts of the country haven’t been able to talk to their families and are dependent on them for finances, our organisation has helped more than 400 students financially. We collected funds from our salaries and are helping the needy,” Mr. Hussain said. He said many students had missed Ph.D. entrance tests conducted by various universities and were also struggling to apply for the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering conducted jointly by the IITs and the Indian Institute of Science as the application process closes on September 23.

“I know freshers who had joined a fresh academic year in September but went back to Kashmir as they were stressed and disheartened due to the situation back home, some students at Jamia Millia University have dropped out of the course,” Mr. Hussain added.


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Printable version | Sep 13, 2021 4:11:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/scientists-step-in-to-assist-students-who-missed-deadlines/article29433426.ece

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