kashmir university

Kashmir once known for her incredible natural beauty, scenic splendour, and picturesque locale has undeniably remained an epicentre of conflict, violence, clashes, and disagreements. The ongoing conflict has impacted every sphere of life in the valley. Among various others, a quite saddening and extremely desolating thing to observe is that education has been one of the worst-hit sectors. One of the main issues in the conflict zones faced by education is the discontinuities that the conflict creates. Students in Kashmir are supposed to pay huge prices almost every year. Here I am going to tell a tale of unceasing agony of a batch which has always been subjected to the conflict and misery. Interestingly, I am one of the victims of this wretched batch.

In September 2014, apart from the devastation caused by the turmoil, a different dawn of catastrophe fell upon the tattered, shattered, and conflict-torn valley when it witnessed an unprecedented misery in the form of floods sweeping away everything that came in the way. It destroyed a good number of residential houses, schools, hospitals, and various other government offices. Connectivity was entirely blocked. That year we were in twelfth standard which is considered a focal point in the life of every student. We were preparing well for the forthcoming final exams scheduled to be held in the month of October. Owing to the havoc wreaked by the floods, Umar Abdullah, the then Chief Minister of J and K announced the postponement of our exams till March 2015 and we lost six months of our academic career. Helplessly, we appeared in the exams in March. Soon after that we got admission in colleges for Bachelors programs. Sadly, semester system was introduced the same year at the college level which is a total mess and failure in Kashmir owing to the valley’s topography and persisting conflict. Consequently, our first semester examination was held in December 2015.

In 2016, we were in 2nd semester and had to appear in the exams of this semester in July. But who doesn’t know what happened then in Kashmir. Uprising and unrest spread everywhere after the killing of Hizb commander, Burhan Wani along with his two comrades. The connectivity was immediately blocked in the whole valley which has always been the first thing to do on part of the government. People flooded the streets and protested everywhere chanting freedom slogans. Consequently, Kashmir remained shut for around six months and our exams were once again delayed and then held in 2017. Regardless of the small incidents of conflict witnessed in 2017, exams were thankfully held on time that year. University of Kashmir, after realising our loss, took pity on us and conducted the exams for 5th & 6th semesters jointly in July 2018. Hence the degree of three years took around four years to complete. And here ends the journey of our college life.

In October 2018, we appeared in the Kashmir University entrance test for Masters degree and many of us qualified the exam with flying colours. After completing all the admission formalities, we joined the university on 6th November. The classes continued for just 2 months till winter vacation was announced. Class work was resumed in March 2019 and our first semester exams were held in July 2019. The university started our second semester without wasting any time. We attended the classes with great zeal and enthusiasm. But hardly did we know that the joy and spirit would be short lived. The shadows of violence once again befell on the valley with the abrogation of Articles—370 and 35A which gave Jammu and Kashmir a special status. Kashmir once again witnessed an unprecedented lockdown. Restrictions were put on the movement of civilians, communication was completely blocked, and everything came to a halt. Educational institutions were closed for seven months. Our pending second semester was resurrected in the month of February 2020 laying forth a smile on our faces after a despondency of seven bruised months. A pall of gloom descended one more time with the dreadful news in the form of COVID-19 which has engulfed the whole globe. In March, it entered Kashmir valley also and the number of positive cases are surmounting day by day. With the result, the govt. has announced a strict lockdown ensuring the closure of all institutions and public activities.

So we are again stuck in the same semester since July 2019. I wonder what will happen to our next two semesters. Students who might have been our batch mates in 2014 from outside the valley and across the world must have completed their Masters degrees and may have achieved success in other competitive exams as well. The 2014 floods have left us in an unceasing flood of misfortune in which we are still drowning. Now, there is a question popping up in my mind. What should we call ourselves? Unfortunate or extraordinary? Honestly speaking, by and large we are uncertain about the completion of our degree owing to the reasons cited above. Let’s not lose hope and believe that this too shall pass. Hoping against hope, I conclude with this Urdu verse: “Hai Shouq e Safr Aisa Ki Ek Umer Se Humne / Manzil Bi Na Paayi Rasta Bi Na Badla.”

P.S. May Almighty Allah save the whole humanity from the present pandemic Covid-19! Take good care of yourselves. Stay in, stay safe.

Sayiqa Haidar is pursuing Masters in English at University of Kashmir.


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2 Comments

  1. Pirzada Ayaz says:

    Penned down the unfortunate story in a beautiful way .
    So I must say Kashmiri students have beeen both Unfortunate and Extraordinary who never lose their hope of competing with the world even after being affected badly.