‘Bumpy Ride’ in Viral Times ‘Writing-Off’ JEE-NEET Exams in Kashmir

KO Photos by Abid Bhat

After being postponed twice, JEE and NEET exams have finally been cleared in Kashmir amid mixed reactions. While many netizens call for the postponement, some aspirants support the hindered process to avoid anxiety and depression.

IT’S a “bumpy ride” for teenager Basit Bashir to reach his examination centre, 70 kilometres away from his hometown Kulgam, in Srinagar’s Rajbagh area.

Starting early morning journey from restive south Kashmir region—dotted with military installations, patrolling parties and checkpoints—is nothing short of a highway horror for him and his student tribe, he says.

“One cannot rely on public transport for such a crucial drive,” Basit says. “And being a Kashmiri student appearing for exams, we’ve to be always ready for the times ahead of us.”

Like thousands of the lockdown-weary students, this Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) and National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) aspirant has been pleading hard for the postponement of the exams for long now.

But despite the protest by some students and opposition parties, the JEE Main exam for admission to engineering colleges started on Tuesday.

As precautionary measure, temperature of the students was checked before allowing them enter the examination center.

JEE and NEET exams have been postponed twice because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While JEE Main was scheduled from April 7 to April 11 and then from July 18 to July 23, NEET was scheduled for May 3 and then for July 26.

Currently, JEE and NEET are scheduled from September 1 to 6 and September 13 respectively.

As on September 1, Jammu and Kashmir had reported 7980 active Covid cases with 703 deaths. The Valley was trying to come out of a political lockdown since last August following abrogation of Article 370, before the pandemic hit and curtailed its education calendar.

The Internet which plays a significant role in the preparation of competitive exams was reduced to 2G in Kashmir.

“The concept which I can understand within half an hour from videos take around 2-3 hours with a slow internet connection,” Basit says.

“Being anxious, I’m not able to focus like earlier,” the aspirant continues. “In the current scenario the exams should be postponed.”

Netizens, especially students, have also thrown their weight behind the JEE-NEET aspirants by trending hashtags like #ManKiNahiStudentsKiBaat,

#StudentsDislikePMModi, #PostponeJEEAndNEET.

Despite the fact that the JEE is already being conducted, Zullkar Nain, a NEET aspirant from Anantnag, feels the exams should’ve been postponed.

On being asked about his preparation for the exam, he says, “Kashmir is unable to access 4G internet from last one year. So, obviously, my preparation isn’t at par with the rest of students all over India.”

Students recently showed their rage against the exam decision by massively disliking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Man Ki Baat’.

The recent episode of the radio program received 986k dislikes.

Amid raging reactions, Subramanian Swamy, a Rajya Sabha member, objected New Delhi’s decision to conduct JEE and NEET.

In one of his tweets, Swamy said that he would try to talk to the Prime Minister and postpone the exams beyond Deepawali.

Likewise, Mir Mohammad Fayaz, a Rajya Sabha member from Jammu and Kashmir, has also written to the Education Minister, Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, to postpone the exams, so that “health and lives of lakhs of students from across the country is prevented from being in danger”.

But then, not everyone is supporting the motion.

Shakir Mantoo, an aspirant, feels that if proper Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are followed in the JEE and NEET exams, they should not be postponed.

Mantoo was enrolled in a coaching institute in Aligarh, and unlike other students in Kashmir, he’s not struggling for study material.

“Further postponement of the exams will affect my continuity and I wish to be done with the paper as soon as possible,” Mantoo says.

Inash Rashid, a NEET aspirant from Anantnag, seconds Mantoo’s views.

“The postponement of the exam has already caused anxiety amongst students, some are even depressed,” says the anxious student.

“If the exams are further postponed, we will lose one year.”

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