Students of the National Institute of Technology (NIT) in Srinagar are facing the prospect of losing a semester, as their college has not opened since July when it was closed due to the unrest that has gripped Srinagar after the death of Hizbul terrorist Burhan Wani.

NIT Srinagar, which has close to 3,000 students, is running behind schedule by more than four months as no classes have taken place, whereas all the other NITs in the country are having their scheduled mid-semester examinations.

“Our career is going down the drain. The autumn semester was supposed to start from July, but till today, nothing has happened. Who will recruit us when the placement season comes as we will still be pursuing our education? We have requested the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to shift us to some other NIT or any college temporarily so that we can resume our education, but nothing has happened. The separatist leaders are not in the mood to let the NIT function as, then, it will give out a symbolic signal that all is well in the valley,” a third-year student of the institute, who is from West Bengal, said.

As per the students, the non-Kashmiri students who are greater in number in the institute, were not taking part in “pro-azaadi” protests, unlike a handful of Kashmiri students.

“A section of the Kashmiri students is more concerned about ‘azaadi’ than in education and hence, we are not getting the local support we need to pressurise the college administration to start the classes. There is a very strong belief among us that the Hurriyat is influencing the decision not to open the institute. We have gathered this from our conversations with the locals and local teachers,” said a non-Kashmiri student who is among the 150 hostel students still waiting in Srinagar for the classes to begin.

According to him, the section of Kashmiri students who were against the starting of classes feel that they are closest to “azaadi” more than ever.

Most of the engineering colleges in India are conducting mid-semester examinations, whereas even the registration process for the autumn session 2016 has not begun in NIT Srinagar.

Experts say that in these circumstances, final year students of both undergraduate and postgraduate courses will be the worst sufferers as their placements and internships will be affected very badly.

Prof (Dr) Manzoor Ahmad Ahanger, Dean Academic Affairs, NIT, Srinagar, said that a draft of the decision that was taken by the governing board of the institute regarding the opening of the institute has been sent to the MHRD for approval.

“Obviously, the other NITs are well ahead of us (regarding the syllabus), but what can we do? This situation has happened because of the present unrest here. If the situation improves, we can start the classes from 1 November and we can cover the syllabus by conducting the classes during the winter vacation, which lasts for three months,” Ahmad told The Sunday Guardian.

He denied that there was any pressure from any political entity not to let the college open.

However, students feel that the institute is just trying to buy time. “They are giving fake assurances. Cancelling the winter vacation will be nothing but devastation for us because our winter training will be ruined. They are also not admitting that they do not have the necessary facilities to accommodate students in harsh winter conditions,” a student from Bihar said.

The students claimed that the director of the institute, whose tenure was ending this month, too, was helpless in the situation and when asked when the classes would resume, he told the students that he had already forwarded their representations to the PMO and asked the students to “pray” so that their classes could resume.

Sant Kumar Sharma, a Jammu-based journalist, accused the separatists for playing with the careers of the students and questioned what would happen if the same thing happened with Kashmiri students who were studying in other parts of India. “It is pathetic that the students at NIT Srinagar have not been able to start their next semester studies yet. It is so heart wrenching to hear from friends that their children are missing studies and examinations. Kashmiris all over India are pursuing education in engineering colleges, in medical colleges and in other streams. If the children from all over India are not allowed to study at Srinagar, should the same be done with Kashmiri students in India? Should their classes, too be disrupted as is happening in NIT Srinagar? Is this what Geelani wants?” Sharma asked.