As students from across India get ready to appear in the National Eligibility Entrance Examination (NEET), the internet suspension in the Jammu and Kashmir region — which has been in place for more than a 100 days — has made it difficult for aspirants in Jammu and Kashmir to even apply for the examination, as per a report in The Tribune. The deadline for filling the online application form is December 31. There is no option to submit the form offline.

For some medical aspirants, who could not attend tuition classes, the internet ban has posed big worry, the report said. It has reportedly taken students hours to complete the formalities for the online application form. “If the government does not restore the Internet services, thousands of students will lose the opportunity to apply for NEET. The form cannot be filled at any help centre where you have a limited time. It takes a lot of time to read instructions and upload documents,” the report quoted a student. Students have appealed to the authorities to restore internet services, per the report.

Govt extends deadline to submit returns for businesses

This report comes at the heels of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs extending the deadline for businesses in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to e-file financial statements and annual returns for FY19 to January 31, 2020, owing to “disturbances in internet services”. In fact, the ministry took this decision after it received requests from “various stakeholders” who requested an extension given that “normal work was affected” due to the internet shutdown in the region. Will the government allow a similar extension to the students from the region to apply for NEET, or restore internet services in the region before it is too late for students to even apply for competitive exams?

No internet in Jammu and Kashmir, 100 days and counting

Internet services were snapped on August 4, a day before Home Minister Amit Shah moved a resolution in the Rajya Sabha to revoke Article 370 of the Constitution that provided special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Congress’s Ghulam Nabi Azad said in Parliament, on November 20, that the duration of the internet shutdown in Jammu and Kashmir is unprecedented and is affecting education and healthcare in the area.

Shah meanwhile said that internet services in the newly formed UT would be restored only when the territory’s administration thinks it fit to do so. He said that “when it is the matter of India’s security, Kashmir valley and its people’s security, and a fight against terrorism, we have to set our priorities,” while responding to questions in Rajya Sabha in November.

In the midst of all this, on November 27, Minister of State in the Home Ministry, G. Kishan Reddy informed the Rajya Sabha that the abrogation of Article 370, and the subsequent reorganisation of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories as per the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, has had “no additional financial implication as such” for the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir.