This article was originally published in Video Volunteers, an award-winning international media community based in India. An edited version is published here thanks to a content exchange agreement.
On August 5, 2019, access to cellular, fixed and internet networks was suspended in the Kashmir region, under Indian administration, due to a total blockade after the Indian government revoked article 370 of the national Constitution that granted the special status of autonomy to the region.
Two months later, the Government partially lifted the communications block. Internet access was restored in some institutions, and there are new rules that force companies to give up their privacy and refrain from using social networks if they want to use the internet. However, the rest of the citizens remain without access to the network.
In a video report by Pir Azhar, community correspondent for Video Volunteers of the Kupwara district in Kashmir, they denounce how the blocking of the internet affects the 48 000 students who present themselves for the different public evaluations. Many are blind about the dates of their exams.
Due to the “security measures” adopted after the special status of Jammu and Kashmir adjudicated by article 370 of the Indian Constitution had been repealed, schools were closed and students could not prepare adequately for exams. Now they are worried about the performance they will have in these tests.
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2g1Qk7yx9c (/ embed)
Next, the video report is transcribed:
Usama Farooq, student: Starting from 5 August 2019 until today, there is no Internet connectivity nor the schools have opened. Even if we had not to worry about the schools and manage to go to (private) tuition centers, these tuition centers were also closed. We were kept away from the Internet. We can manage without the schools (for some time) but how do we survive from the Section 144 (Prohibition on unlawful assembly – Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) of 1973)?
Usama Farooq, student: From August 5, 2019 until today, there is no internet connectivity or schools opened. Although we did not have to worry about school and could pay tuition in private institutes, these centers also closed. They took away the internet. We may be out of school (for a while), but how do we survive with article 144 (Prohibition of illegal associations: Article 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) of 1973)?
Interviewer (Pir Azhar): And what do you think? Do you think you can pass the exams?
Pir Umar, student: How can we pass? We’re not sure if what we study is 100% from the syllabus or not. How can we pass (the exam) by studying just 32%?
Pir Umar, student: How can we approve? We are not even sure that what we study is 100% of the curriculum. How are we going to pass (the exam) if we only study 32% of the contents?
Usama Farooq, student: How do we pass (the exam) when we haven’t covered the whole syllabus but the tests cover 100% of the syllabus? We're facing a lot of issues because of this.
Usama Farooq, student: How are we going to pass (the exam) when we couldn't cover the entire program but the exams include 100% of the content? This brought us many problems.
Malik Dawood, student: Why are we in the school at the moment? We’re here because the dates for the Internet practicals (online practical exams) are out. We didn’t know anything about this (the abrogation of Section 370 in Jammu and Kashmir). We came two-three days after our Internet practicals began because our local teachers informed us that the practical dates are out. If mobile networks were functional normally, we would have heard from somewhere or other about the practicals. Because of the communications breakdown, we didn’t know about the Internet practicals.
Malik Dawood, student: Why are we now in school? We came because the dates for internet practitioners (practical online exams) came out. We did not know anything about this (the repeal of article 370 of Jammu and Kashmir). We came two or three days after the internet practicals started because the teachers in the area had told us that the dates were already there. If the mobile networks had worked normally, we would have learned one way or another of the exams on time. Because of the blocking of communications, we did not hear anything.
Pir Umar, student: The Government of India abrogated Article 370 from the (Indian) Constitution for two or so months and they brought here 1,200 army personnel. We couldn’t go to schools after that. Parents were scared if their kids will come back home safely from schools.
Pir Umar, student: The Government of India repealed article 370 of the Constitution (of India) just over two months ago and sent 1,200 soldiers. After that, we couldn't go to class. Parents feared for the safety of their children.