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In Coronavirus pandemic: Kashmiris Stuck with 2G Network despite classes go online


Kamran Ashraf Bhat Joint Editor

As the whole world is switching off from Schools and Offices  to online virtual interactions due to Coronavirus virus pandemic, Kashmiris are still stuck with 2g internet.It’s no new for Kashmiris that,  they have been restricted from using the internet ,but in the current prevailing situation they are finding it hard to stay at home  and do nothing .
Huge no of students who are studying outside India , have beenprecisely told to be connected with University virtual classes and exam schedules by their University administration, but as they cross the borderline of Kashmir they are introduced to the reality of low internet speed.
Internet was restored in Kashmir after 7 months of communication blackout.India nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked a special status for Kashmir that gave it greater autonomy as India’s only majority-Muslim state ,after which to curb any possible backlash, Indian state-imposed clampdown in Kashmir which lasted for 7 months.
Local School and University education departments directed it’s teaching staff to give lectures through online classes,children aren’t able to make the most of it due to the availability of 2G internet.  Many students told me that , whenever the online classes were  about to started , live video conference was either stopped or pixels were not enough to support for vidoe call.”First a communications blackout and now 2g speed internet in the times of lockdown to control and contain the spread of coronavirus came to put a halt on our classes. We were told to connect with online classrooms but it’s impossible with 2g speed. We had to wait for hours to have a good connection , when we get connected out of nowhere the video conference disappears due to low speed connection”, told Qifah Firdous, Who is Student of 7th standard.
Students in rest of  India have now  resumed their academic initiatives in the form of  online classes and internet resources. More than half of million students in Kashmir have been deprived of the  education ever since the lockdown was first announced as a measure to contain and control the spread of the novel coronavirus. There  is no way for them to get their school syllabus done ,which becomes a major factor for their less performance in degree  qualifications.
Teachers in Kashmir’s frontier district Kupwara , which lies near LOC ( Line of Control ) are recording now lectures in their homes and then uploading them for students ,but many of these teachers claimed that such efforts are not enough , student participation is not encouraging.” We do our best to keep consistency in our online video-recorded lectures but, numbers of student participation are not encouraging. The quality of videos are poor and hard to concentrate, students left in the middle video conferences as they are finding it hard to communicate “, said Fayaz Ahmed, who is teaching in local high school.
It’s not only the education of students which  has hit the most , but also  has impacted psychologically. Students are worried about their exams and syllabus.
Atif lone , residing from Kashmir , is studying medicine in Philippine. He told me over the WhatsApp call  that , they  wanted to come back home as situation in their  place is terrifying due to COVID 19 infection. But the only reason they  are still not able to convince themselves is low internet speed. ” When we understood that, the world is going towards strict Lockdown, the first idea came our minds, was to book a flight and left for our home. We are at least 100 Kashmiris in this University, some left at that time some remained due to fear of low internet speed. Many of our friends who reached Kashmir were not able to join a virtual semester examination. They are not able to join online classes and I am sure it will be problematic for them when the grades will be announced.”
On April 21, 2020, on a petition filed by an NGO seeking its directions for the restoration of 4G mobile internet services in Jammu and Kashmir, the apex court had asked the Central government and Jammu and Kashmir administration to file its detailed response. But, the Supreme Court heard the plea on May 11 and refused to pass an order to restore 4G internet and left the decision to the special committee led by the Union Home Secretary.
A bench of Justices N.V. Ramana, R. Subhash Reddy and B.R. Gavai said the court has to “ensure national security and human rights are balanced”, according to LiveLaw.
“We do recognise that the UT has plunged into crisis. At the same time court is cognisant to the concerns related to ongoing pandemic and hardships. In the Anuradha Bhasin case, we said that there should be adequate procedural safeguards. On the same note, we directed to constitute a committee of secretaries comprising Centre and States, Secy of MHA, Ministry of Communication and CS of J&K. The Special Committee is directed to examine the contentions made by Petitioners, as well as the appropriateness of their contentions and the alternative remedy,” the court said.
This decision was not well received in Kashmir , criticism flooded on Twitter and other social media websites against this order .
Gautam Bhatia , @gautambhatia88 , of of the Witter handler used wrote in his tweet .
https://twitter.com/gautambhatia88/status/1259739144768688128?s=19
“Reminded of the Emergency-era judgements: the executive will decide whether the executive violated fundamental rights and whether the executive will grant a remedy for the rights violations of the executive. SC living up to its long-standing traditions.”

Students now have given up any hope , or if they still hope they live always under the fear of uncertainty . A small encounter of militants in Kashmir can result in ban on the internet for days and months.In last high-profile encounter of local separatist militant , Riyaz Naikoo, Internet and voice service was As the whole world is switching off from Schools and Offices  to online virtual interactions due to Coronavirus virus pandemic, Kashmiris are still stuck with 2g internet.It’s no new for Kashmiris that,  they have been restricted from using the internet ,but in the current prevailing situation they are finding it hard to stay at home  and do nothing .
Huge no of students who are studying outside India , have beenprecisely told to be connected with University virtual classes and exam schedules by their University administration, but as they cross the borderline of Kashmir they are introduced to the reality of low internet speed.
Internet was restored in Kashmir after 7 months of communication blackout.India nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked a special status for Kashmir that gave it greater autonomy as India’s only majority-Muslim state ,after which to curb any possible backlash, Indian state-imposed clampdown in Kashmir which lasted for 7 months.
Local School and University education departments directed it’s teaching staff to give lectures through online classes,children aren’t able to make the most of it due to the availability of 2G internet.  Many students told me that , whenever the online classes were  about to started , live video conference was either stopped or pixels were not enough to support for vidoe call.”First a communications blackout and now 2g speed internet in the times of lockdown to control and contain the spread of coronavirus came to put a halt on our classes. We were told to connect with online classrooms but it’s impossible with 2g speed. We had to wait for hours to have a good connection , when we get connected out of nowhere the video conference disappears due to low speed connection”, told Qifah Firdous, Who is Student of 7th standard.
Students in rest of  India have now  resumed their academic initiatives in the form of  online classes and internet resources. More than half of million students in Kashmir have been deprived of the  education ever since the lockdown was first announced as a measure to contain and control the spread of the novel coronavirus. There  is no way for them to get their school syllabus done ,which becomes a major factor for their less performance in degree  qualifications.
Teachers in Kashmir’s frontier district Kupwara , which lies near LOC ( Line of Control ) are recording now lectures in their homes and then uploading them for students ,but many of these teachers claimed that such efforts are not enough , student participation is not encouraging.” We do our best to keep consistency in our online video-recorded lectures but, numbers of student participation are not encouraging. The quality of videos are poor and hard to concentrate, students left in the middle video conferences as they are finding it hard to communicate “, said Fayaz Ahmed, who is teaching in local high school.
It’s not only the education of students which  has hit the most , but also  has impacted psychologically. Students are worried about their exams and syllabus.


Atif lone , residing from Kashmir , is studying medicine in Philippine. He told me over the WhatsApp call  that , they  wanted to come back home as situation in their  place is terrifying due to COVID 19 infection. But the only reason they  are still not able to convince themselves is low internet speed. ” When we understood that, the world is going towards strict Lockdown, the first idea came our minds, was to book a flight and left for our home. We are at least 100 Kashmiris in this University, some left at that time some remained due to fear of low internet speed. Many of our friends who reached Kashmir were not able to join a virtual semester examination. They are not able to join online classes and I am sure it will be problematic for them when the grades will be announced.”


On April 21, 2020, on a petition filed by an NGO seeking its directions for the restoration of 4G mobile internet services in Jammu and Kashmir, the apex court had asked the Central government and Jammu and Kashmir administration to file its detailed response. But, the Supreme Court heard the plea on May 11 and refused to pass an order to restore 4G internet and left the decision to the special committee led by the Union Home Secretary.
A bench of Justices N.V. Ramana, R. Subhash Reddy and B.R. Gavai said the court has to “ensure national security and human rights are balanced”, according to LiveLaw.


“We do recognise that the UT has plunged into crisis. At the same time court is cognisant to the concerns related to ongoing pandemic and hardships. In the Anuradha Bhasin case, we said that there should be adequate procedural safeguards. On the same note, we directed to constitute a committee of secretaries comprising Centre and States, Secy of MHA, Ministry of Communication and CS of J&K. The Special Committee is directed to examine the contentions made by Petitioners, as well as the appropriateness of their contentions and the alternative remedy,” the court said.


This decision was not well received in Kashmir , criticism flooded on Twitter and other social media websites against this order .
Gautam Bhatia , @gautambhatia88 , wrote in his tweet .

“Reminded of the Emergency-era judgements: the executive will decide whether the executive violated fundamental rights and whether the executive will grant a remedy for the rights violations of the executive. SC living up to its long-standing traditions.”

Students now have given up any hope , or if they still hope, they live always under the fear of uncertainty . A small encounter of militants in Kashmir can result in ban on the internet for days and months.In last high-profile encounter of local separatist militant , Riyaz Naikoo, Internet and voice service was banned from days , before that in 2016,  when famous Militant Commander , Burhan Wani was killed by Indian security forces internet and voice call service was not allowed for 6 months.
 Wani was killed by Indian security forces internet and voice call service was not allowed for 6 months.


Kamran Ashraf Bhat is Joint Editor of Inside Kashmir newspaper and special Secretary to President of Jammu and Kashmir journalists Union. He has been writing on politics , economics and many other social issues . You contact author on [email protected]