Chorus for 4G Internet restoration grows in Kashmir

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Youth surfing internet in Srinagar after Govt restored 2G internet after over 5 months
Youth surfing internet in Srinagar after Govt restored 2G internet after over 5 months – PTI

SRINAGAR — The chorus for the restoration of high-speed 4G Internet services on mobile phones in Jammu and Kashmir has grown in the wake of the detection of three cases of coronavirus in the valley.

The students and their parents, political leaders in unison have sought 4G Internet services in the region to allow educational institutes to offer e-learning to students amid a seven-month-long lockdown – earlier following the abrogation of Article 370 in August, and now because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

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G N Var, president of the Kashmir Private School Association in a statement sought restoration of 4G Internet services to help students learn from home.

The association has said the ban on high-speed 4G Internet services has been preventing schools from offering online classroom teaching to students in the region.

“While private schools show their readiness to shift to online lesson plans, they’re running into limitations of our broadband networks,” said Var, adding that online classes through apps and software like Zoom and Google Classroom is the only option for the schools till they reopen.

He further added that high-speed Internet facility at home is the only way to help students to learn remotely.

Farooq Abdullah after his release from PSA detention demanded the restoration of 4G Internet services. “The people are being advised to work/study from home, but this is impossible with 2G Internet speed and limited fixed-line Internet penetration,” he said.

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“I would, therefore, request you to restore 4G Internet services in Jammu and Kashmir at the earliest to ease the suffering of the people,” he said in the letter.

Newly launched Jammu Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) President, Altaf Bukhari also urged the Union Home Minister to restore high-speed mobile Internet. “Since all the educational institute are closed in J&K, the students have been left with no option but to remain idle in their homes which has a telling impact on their future,” he said.

“Earlier, our students missed classes due to disruptions created by August 5, 2019 decisions and now the novel coronavirus outbreak has posed a serious challenge to our children to cope up with their counterparts in the country who enjoy all other educational facilities including high-speed mobile Internet,” he said.

Meanwhile, a Twitter user, Shazia Bakshi, said the only tool for communication in times of social distancing was being denied to the people of J&K. “Internet is perceived to be a bigger threat to #Kashmiris than #Coronavirus!! At a time when #SocialDistancing is a way to survive this apocalypse, the ONLY tool for communication, knowledge, connectivity, information, work et al is being denied to us! Shame! #Restore4GinKashmir (sic),” she wrote on Twitter.

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Meanwhile, a top official said that registration of students for online classes is underway in every college of J&K and will be completed by 31st of March.

Director NIT Srinagar, Rakesh Sehgal when asked about any initiative by the institute for starting online classes, said, “We have taken the initiative to upload the material and lectures on website. We have asked all the teachers to follow the instructions and upload the material on the website. Students can access the material sitting in their homes until normalcy is restored.”

When we contacted Principal Secretary, School Education Department, Dr Asgar Hassan Samoon, he said the department has already started ‘Mirchi Master Classes’ on air for the students, who want to clear doubts or have questions in different subjects.

“We are keeping an eye on the situation and will accordingly start online classes for the students soon or remedial classes in future,” he said.

Secretary Higher Education, Talat Parvez informed, “Online classes will start from 1st week of April. We have apprised higher-ups regarding the initiative and decision of restoring 4G for smooth conduct of these classes will be taken by the government at an appropriate time.”

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