Srinagar: More than two years have passed since ’round the clock’ reading room facility at the University of Kashmir continue to remain closed, causing ‘immense problems’ to scholars and students associated with the varsity.
In August 2019, the library was closed following the closure of educational institutions across the valley after the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the erstwhile state into two union territories controlled directly by a New Delhi appointed regime.
A year later, the library resumed work following a number of protests by the students. However, a big lock continues to hang on the reading room facility of the library.
In March 2020, another lockdown was announced after the outbreak of novel coronavirus, however, after six months, activities in colleges, universities, and government offices across Kashmir were resumed, but the University has failed to reopen the facility of the library even after one long year.
Kashmir University’s round-the-clock reading room facility provides access to the students and scholars of the varsity for night studies for their exams and research projects. The reading room has a capacity to accommodate around 200 to 250 students at a time.
An official from the university said on the condition of anonymity that the varsity has resumed work in every department and is “organizing events every month but making excuses of COVID SOPs for not resuming the reading room”.
Before 2019, students, mostly scholars, used to study during the night hours in the reading room to prepare for competitive exams and complete their research.
However, their studies have been badly affected due to the closure of the reading room.
“During the day we remain busy with the research work and classes and the right time to study is during the evening but the university, as well as library, is being closed at 4: 00 pm,” said a law student wishing anonymity, adding “our studies have been badly hampered due to the closure”.
He said that they have staged protests and requested university authorities but all in vain as the requests were denied time and again.
Another scholar of the Social Work department said, “we share rooms with 3-4 persons and it is not possible to study in a room because the environment is not feasible. We used to study in the reading room before 2019 for about 3 in the early morning and it was very fruitful. We are facing a lot of problems due to the closing of the reading room.”
Chief Librarian Kashmir University, Professor Irshad Ahmad said, “for opening round-the-clock reading room we need permission from the disaster management department because there are standing orders from the government that no gathering should happen for late hours.”
When asked about the events and gatherings taking place in KU every month, Professor said this question will be better answered by the Vice-Chancellor of Kashmir University.
Nisar Ahmad Mir, Register Kashmir University said, “we have provided rooms where students can study during day hours. The reading room is located in an underground story where problems of ventilation can occur and due to the COVID we cannot allow students to study there. We are concerned for their health.”
When asked that authorities should make arrangements for the round-the-clock reading room at some other “ventilated” place, Nisar denied it and said authorities cannot allow students to study for the night.
“They can study till 7 in the evening and that is enough,” he added.