Amid the Internet lock down in Kashmir, over 24000 aspirants are facing extreme difficulties in applying for National Eligibility and Entrance Examination (NEET), a highly competitive test through which students seek admissions in medical colleges across India.
According to official figures, on an average 24000 aspirantsapply for NEET in Kashmir each year. Last year total number of aspirants was24103, of which 23038 finally appeared in the examination. The NEET applicationforms are accepted online only.
However this year, unlike in other parts of the country, students in Kashmir are moving from pillar to post to try and get their application forms filled in view of the Internet blockade.
The administration has kept 30 computers available for publicuse, particularly for students, at TRC facilitation centre in Srinagar.
Around 150 computers are available at National InformaticsCentres in the offices of Deputy Commissioners in districts, around 15 in eachof the 10 districts.
But these 15 computers in each district also cater to theneeds of traders, contractors, government departments, job aspirants, otherstudents, etc. and always remain occupied, leaving only the 30 computers at TRCSrinagar for exclusive use of students.
"Successful updation and submission of a form takes at least10 minutes. Imagine there are 100 aspirants waiting in a queue, how much timeit would cost them. In an hour one computer operator at NIC centre can submitonly 6 NEET forms as it requires updation of aspirant's photo, signature andthumb impression besides entering other details," said Zahid Ahmad Reshi, aNEET aspirant who was waiting for his turn at TRC facilitation centre.
Like Reshi, thousands of aspirants who are burning midnightoil to secure admission in medical colleges are unnecessarily suffering due tothe internet lockdown which is in place in Kashmir since the central governmentabrogated Jammu and Kashmir's special status and bifurcated the State into twoUnion Territories.
Normally in rest of the places across India, students canfill up online application forms for NEET sitting in their cozy rooms under thewatchful guidance of their guardians, but here in Kashmir, the aspirants whoare class 12 students have to sit in long queues for hours in bone-chillingcold outside the facilitation centres.
"It is highly unfortunatethat when I should be preparing for NEET exam, I am here waiting in a queue tofill my application form," said Muntazir Ahmad, a student who was waiting inqueue outside TRC facilitation centre.
Like Ahmad there are thousands of aspirants who are a worriedlot due to internet lockdown.
"We studied whatever little we could in such hardcircumstances but now we do not know where to fill the forms as the internet isblocked," said Bushra who has been preparing for the exam for the last oneyear.
The NEET forms were issued on Monday and the last date forsubmitting the same is December 31.
"There is a long list of instructions that we need to read.How will thousands of students from all districts of Kashmir fill the detailswithout the internet? Our career is at stake," said Asif Ahmad, anotherstudent.
"If the government does notrestore the internet services, thousands of students will lose the opportunityto apply for NEET. The form cannot be filled at any help centre where you havelimited time. It takes a lot of time to read instructions and upload documents,"a student said.
A senior governmentofficial while admitting that internet lockdown is creating hassles for theaspirants applying for various competitive exams, however said, "Government hasestablished NIC centres in all districts from where aspirants can apply onlinefor competitive exams including NEET. Over 150 computers equipped with internetfacilities have been kept at disposal for aspirants of various professionalexaminations across Kashmir region."