Jammu and Kashmir unrest leaves 20,000 students in the lurch

August 20th, 2008 - 3:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Aug 20 (IANS) The future of thousands of aspiring professionals across Jammu and Kashmir hangs in balance as the common entrance test (CET) for various professional courses have been indefinitely postponed due to the continuing unrest - the first time that this has happened.Every July, thousands of aspiring doctors, engineers, veterinarians, agricultural scientists and others compete for seats in various professional colleges - either government run or privately owned - by taking the CET exam that is held simultaneously in the Kashmir valley and the Jammu region.

The tests were not postponed even during the height of the militancy in the 1990s when the valley was in turmoil and students would walk to the centres during shutdowns.

“We have to hold the test on the same day throughout the state for admissions to graduate level courses in disciplines like medicine, engineering and agricultural sciences.

“Earlier, the tests had to be postponed because of the situation in the valley and then because of the trouble in Jammu region. We cannot hold the tests separately as aspirants compete for these professional courses at the state level,” said an official of the board of professional exams that conducts the CET.

This year, over 20,000 candidates from the valley, Ladakh and Jammu regions have applied for the CET.

Of the 20,000, only a few hundred make it to the colleges. For the rest who apply for courses outside the state this indefinite delay means the loss of an entire academic year.

“I have been sweating it out for 16 hours a day to make it to the MBBS course, but the uncertainty about the test is frustrating,” said 18-year-old Nadeem.

The allotment of 40 hectares of land in the valley to the Amarnath shrine board first led to protests in Kashmir. The decision was then withdrawn triggering an outcry in Jammu. Almost two months later, the agitation has snowballed into a massive movement in both regions with about 40 people killed during the consecutive days of shutdowns and curfew.

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