A student’s dispatch from Pulwama

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After dogged dispute pushed many students to wall, the offensive is now derailing the daily routine. A student from Pulwama details the same every day ordeal through his disturbing dispatch.

By Rafeeq Ul Islam

I come from Pulwama, southern district of Kashmir. Being the most volatile district of the valley, home to new-age insurgency, it mostly stays in news because of frequent gunfights and shutdowns. Amid this overwhelming situation, civilian harassments majorly go unreported. All this makes it very difficult for a student to concentrate on his/her studies.

This disturbing reality was the reason why I moved to Srinagar for higher studies. Part of the decision was driven by the harsh fact that one might end up return dead from school. Escalated military offensive over the last few years has created its own uncertainties in Pulwama.

Almost every three days, we’ve a gunfight between insurgents and forces rocking our backyard. It often ends on a signature note: killing of an armed rebel. It doesn’t stop there. A local civilian who runs towards the gunfight site, in a bid to rescue his armed brethren, often ends up dead on a hospital bed.

A shutdown that follows paralyses the life for almost a week. This recurrent restive and tense period means no school and college.

Authorities now order the closure of schools and college of the area, as soon as a gunfight starts. It happened recently and is likely to happen again. Such a grim reality only makes the life of a student arduous and bleak in today’s Pulwama.

Speaking from my own experience, the routine 3-day shutdown in a week hardly leaves any motivation for schooling. It’s the self study, which has a role here. But unfortunately, it’s not everybody’s cup of tea, as some need guidance to excel in their careers.

With this 3-day, limited schooling, the academic pressure is only mounting on the students of Pulwama and it’s mostly likely to lead to risks of depression, hypertension, etc.

Apart from this gloomy classroom scenario, the state’s response often remains hostile.

Only in 2017, some students were arrested on charges of stone pelting. It led to the violent campus protests and clashes all over the Kashmir. And again, it adversely affected the studies of the students.

With the result, parents from Pulwama were forced to send their wards, either outside the state or Srinagar, for study.

Unlike other students though, I travel on daily basis, from my home to college in the city. But this daily commuting is nothing short of a nightmare.

Almost every day, I’ve to pass through a surprise checking. Hostile troops eagerly wait to welcome the vehicles from south entering Srinagar at many checkpoints. Unusual questions, frisking, luggage-scanning remain part of this routine drill.

The forces randomly pick the vehicles from Pulwama and Shopian, with number-plate JK13 and JK22 respectively, and scan them before allow them to move to the city. This travel clearance exercise often breeds delay, thus sending already disturbed student late in classroom.

Unfortunately, what the students from southern Kashmir are facing back home, face the same treatment elsewhere. Lately, students from Pulwama, living as hostellers in the city, were frisked; their rooms checked, following a suspicious attack on forces in Srinagar.

Not only this, the students from south, studying in Kashmir University were in recent past asked to deposit their electronic gadgets in a nearby Police Station. Although after a few hours they were asked to recollect their gadgets, the brazen checking only made them feel home.

So, what’s happening in the south doesn’t remain in south. Ask any student from the area and one will get the clear picture: how students are one of the worst sufferers of this perpetual conflict.

This write-up is published in the July Issue of ‘THE INDUS POST’ Magazine

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