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Kashmir unrest: ‘When will CM, separatists stop using students as football?’

Noor-us-Sama: Class 12 student in Srinagar; wants to become an ‘independent thinker’

Written by Mir Ehsan |
Updated: January 1, 2017 5:48:01 am
kashmir, kashmir unrest, kashmir burhan wani, kashmir protests, kashmir crisis, mehbooba mufti, jammu kashmir cm, jammu and kashmir, mehbooba separatists, kashmir schools, india news, kashmir news In the five months following Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani’s killing, Sama couldn’t move out of her house and due to the Internet and mobile phone blockades. (Source: Express Archive Photo)

To mark 2017, The Sunday Express meets 17-year-olds across the country touched by the big events of 2016 — to listen to their questions as they begin their first year of adulthood.

AFTER remaining confined to her house at Zainakote on the outskirts of Srinagar for five months, Noor-us-Sama, a science student, appeared for her Class 12 exams last month after the state government went ahead with them despite initial protests from students. “Ours was the most unlucky batch. We had faced a similar situation in Class 10 in 2014 when our exams had got postponed due to the floods in the city. Instead of 2014, we sat for the exams in 2015, and some months later, appeared for Class 11 exams,” says Sama, playing with her two younger brothers, who are in Classes 7 and 8.

“I thought I would make up for all that this year, but 2016 proved even worse,” sighs Sama, who had cleared Class 10 with distinction. After her initial schooling at a private English-medium school in Karan Nagar, Sama now studies in the Kothibagh Higher Secondary School, a reputed government institution. In the five months following Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani’s killing, Sama couldn’t move out of her house and due to the Internet and mobile phone blockades, struggled to stay in touch with friends and classmates. “I couldn’t even concentrate on my studies due to the protests and curfews,” Sama adds.

The Jammu and Kashmir Board of School Education announced a relaxation of 50 per cent in the syllabus to get students to participate in the exams held for Classes 10 and 12. Though the students had the choice of writing the exams with full syllabus in March, more than 98 per cent of them opted for the November date, fearing that exams in March would leave them with little time to appear for the competitive entrance tests.

kashmir, kashmir unrest, kashmir burhan wani, kashmir protests, kashmir crisis, mehbooba mufti, jammu kashmir cm, jammu and kashmir, mehbooba separatists, kashmir schools, india news, kashmir news Sama (in selfie) is worried about her preparation for coming entrance tests

Sama admits she was not ready initially, but that her parents and friends encouraged her. “July is a crucial month for our studies, and we didn’t attend a single class from July. Still, our exams were conducted… But now, I am relaxed as I am hopeful I will secure good marks. Even my parents are happy.” Sama, however, doesn’t see how exams such as these, with relaxed syllabus, can benefit students. “I have to appear in two entrance exams in April and June. I am worried about how I will perform after losing all these crucial months.”

Sama says that if she could, she would ask Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, Education Minister Naeem Akhtar, as well as separatists to not use education for political gains. “The government used students to fulfill its wishes. So did the separatists, who wasted five months of our time… Caught between the politics of the government and the separatist leadership, students get kicked around like football. When will they leave the education sector alone?”

Sama says her father, a transporter, too suffered heavy losses during the past five months of unrest. Her mother told her to cut down on her expenses. “My brothers and I used to get pocket money. Not any longer. We didn’t complain as we knew the situation in the Valley was bad.” Sama, who loves music and reading, aspires to become “an independent thinker”, and hopes the coming years will see peace. “As a student, we have suffered and don’t want the coming generations to suffer.”

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