With Internet yet to be restored four months into the August 5 lockdown in the Valley, thousands of students hoping to apply for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for entry into medical courses have been facing a tough time.
While the government has set up Internet kiosks — one at each of the 10 district headquarters — to “facilitate” the applications, students say these kiosks are too few in number. Over 20,000 students from Kashmir appeared for the NEET exams last year and sources say the number is likely to increase this year.
Despite several calls by The Sunday Express, Srinagar Deputy Commissioner Shahid Iqbal Choudhary could not be contacted.
Early Saturday morning, Shaista Rashid Bhat, 19, left her home at Larkipora village in Anantnag district, hoping to submit her NEET form in Srinagar. But at 4 pm, she was still waiting for her turn at the Tourist Reception Centre (TRC) in Srinagar, where the government has set aside a few computers for students to submit their NEET examination forms. After waiting in a queue for 10 hours, Bhat said she was preparing to return home without submitting her form.
“I left my home at 7 in the morning and reached the DC (Deputy Commissioner’s) office at 8 in the morning. I waited there for two hours and was then told to go to the TRC. When I arrived here, we were asked to get all the documents in a pen drive. First, we had to look for a pen drive and then search for a shop to scan our documents. After two hours, we managed both but my turn is yet to come. I have lost all hope of submitting my form today,” said Shaista.
By around 4 pm on Saturday, only 73 students had submitted their NEET forms at this TRC and Shaista’s serial number in the queue was 123.
For Rahila, a Class 12 student from South Kashmir’s Awantipora, the day began even earlier – she, along with her mother, started from their home before day break – but ended on a good note: Rahila got her turn at 4 pm.
While an official at the TRC said they had reserved 10 computers for the NEET aspirants, the students said there were no more than six.
A poster outsider the centre asks students to keep their documents and photographs ready in a pen drive. But what perplexes them is the message that they should keep “a mobile number from outside the state for OTP”.
“By snapping the Internet, the government has already put us at a disadvantage in comparison to students from other places,” said Ajaz Rashid, a student awaiting his turn at the TRC.
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