Srinagar: Despite burning midnight oil to crack Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE), a national-level post-graduate entrance exam, some Kashmiri aspirants cannot appear in the exam. The candidates were seen biting their nails at the Srinagar Airport as the Airlines have rescheduled their cancelled tickets due to bad weather to a date post the examination.
Speaking to Free Press Kashmir over the phone, an official from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi says that at this point in time when the exam is just a day away, nothing can be done.
“Those who miss it will miss it. It is not a matter about one state. It’s about aspirants from across India. The dates for the exam are 2nd and 10th February and cannot be changed,” he says adding, “The aspirants could have booked the tickets for an earlier date. It is a computer-based exam and it cannot be set up in a day. We tried a lot to make some way for the Kashmiri students but nothing could be done.”
With no center here in Kashmir, the aspirants ought to take the yearly examination outside the valley. The examination takes place in winters when weather conditions in the valley are such that the road, as well as the airways, are often inaccessible. In all these years, no center has been established for the aspirants nor do the airway service providers cut them some slack.
“Even if I had booked the ticket earlier, chances were my flight would have been cancelled given the adverse weather conditions here. They can shift GATE to June when the weather is fine or they can just keep a center in Kashmir,” says Mir Wahiba, a GATE aspirant who had booked a Go Air Flight for 31st January.
“Due to the snowfall, the flight got cancelled and instead of giving me a ticket for 1st February, they are telling me that I can go on 4th February. My exam is scheduled at 9.30 am on 2nd February,” she adds.
Many other aspirants who have booked with other airlines like Spice Jet, Air India are also requesting the authorities to let them board a flight. However, according to the Srinagar Airport Authorities, no changes can be made as the flights scheduled for today are already booked by other passengers.
“We also have to think about the passengers of the five flights that got cancelled. It is all systematic. Since the road on Jammu- Srinagar Highway is closed, people cannot travel by road. So, they have booked the flights. It’s all full. We have rescheduled the flights. There is nothing else we can do,” says an Airport official.
Meanwhile, reportedly, the governor administration has taken up the matter with the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). The Governor’s Advisor Khurshid Ahmad Ganai has taken up the matter with Secretary Higher Education Department, Ministry of Human Resource Development and is pressing for a GATE center in Kashmir.