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 aspirants apply for NEET in Kashmir each year. Last year total number of aspirants was 24103, of which 23038 finally appeared in the examination. The NEET application forms 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 public use, particularly for students, at TRC facilitation centre in Srinagar.
Around 150 computers are available at National Informatics Centres in the offices of Deputy Commissioners in districts, around 15 in each of the 10 districts.
But these 15 computers in each district also cater to the needs of traders, contractors, government departments, job aspirants, other students, etc. and always remain occupied, leaving only the 30 computers at TRC Srinagar for exclusive use of students.
“Successful updation and submission of a form takes at least 10 minutes. Imagine there are 100 aspirants waiting in a queue, how much time it would cost them. In an hour one computer operator at NIC centre can submit only 6 NEET forms as it requires updation of aspirant’s photo, signature and thumb impression besides entering other details,” said Zahid Ahmad Reshi, a NEET aspirant who was waiting for his turn at TRC facilitation centre.
Like Reshi, thousands of aspirants who are burning midnight oil to secure admission in medical colleges are unnecessarily suffering due to the internet lockdown which is in place in Kashmir since the central government abrogated Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcated the State into two Union Territories.
Normally in rest of the places across India, students can fill up online application forms for NEET sitting in their cozy rooms under the watchful guidance of their guardians, but here in Kashmir, the aspirants who are class 12 students have to sit in long queues for hours in bone-chilling cold outside the facilitation centres.
“It is highly unfortunate that when I should be preparing for NEET exam, I am here waiting in a queue to fill my application form,” said Muntazir Ahmad, a student who was waiting in queue outside TRC facilitation centre.
Like Ahmad there are thousands of aspirants who are a worried lot due to internet lockdown.
“We studied whatever little we could in such hard circumstances but now we do not know where to fill the forms as the internet is blocked,” said Bushra who has been preparing for the exam for the last one year.
The NEET forms were issued on Monday and the last date for submitting 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 details without the internet? Our career is at stake,” said Asif Ahmad, another student.
“If the government does not restore the internet services, thousands of students will lose the opportunity to apply for NEET. The form cannot be filled at any help centre where you have limited time. It takes a lot of time to read instructions and upload documents,” a student said.
A senior government official while admitting that internet lockdown is creating hassles for the aspirants applying for various competitive exams, however said, “Government has established NIC centres in all districts from where aspirants can apply online for competitive exams including NEET. Over 150 computers equipped with internet facilities have been kept at disposal for aspirants of various professional examinations across Kashmir region.”