Hyderabad: Kashmiri students of the Osmania University (OU), Hyderabad Central University (HCU) and Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) are back home as the abrogation of Article 370 completes its first anniversary.

Last year, on August 5, the Government of India announced that through the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, Kashmir would be losing its special status and the limited autonomy granted to it since 1947. Post the date, several restrictions, including a curfew and a long-running communication blockade, were placed in the valley to avoid any instance of security threat and disturbance.

Kashmiri students at Hyderabad universities were cut off from their families until the communication lines were resumed. Landline connectivity was resumed two weeks after the abrogation while post paid connectivity was resumed in October, 2019. However, due to the pandemic-imposed lockdown and a disruption of academic activities, many Kashmiri students had the chance to go back home between March and June.

At home, the students are spending time with their families, which were once cut off from them for a long period.

Speaking to NewsMeter, a student of the Hyderabad Central University, Hadif Nisar, says, “It was 1 month after the abrogation that I got the chance to hear my father’s voice. He had to walk to a phone booth, far away from our house, and wait in the line for an hour before he could call me.”

Hadif is also the president of Jammu and Kashmir Students’ Association at HCU and was vocal against the communication blockade imposed in the valley last year.

A resident of Kashmir’s Anantnag district, Hadif adds that it was comforting to be at home with the family. “Even if I get disconnected with the outside world while being at home, it offers a sense of relief. Being outside and not being able to know how the family members are makes one anxious,” he adds.

One other student, Azhar Shaheen, however, was only able to get in touch with his family five months after the abrogation. Pursuing journalism at the Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Azhar went back home during the lockdown.

“I live in a rural district of Kashmir, Konan Poshpora, and so it was very difficult to get in touch with my family post the abrogation,” he pointed out.

“I was in Kashmir on August 4, 2019 and I can vividly recall how gruesome everything around us was. We knew something was going to happen the next day. Fear was visible on faces of the people in the valley,” Azhar adds.

A few days later, he left for Hyderabad and was only able to get in touch with his family in January, 2020

Maryam Sara, a student at Osmania University, narrated a similar tale. “I am happy to be back at home, especially because I celebrated Bakrid with my family this year,” she says.

For all the three students, last year’s Bakrid (Eid-al-Adha) was unusually saddening because they were not able to speak to their families. The festival fell a week after the abrogation. “I was not in a condition to celebrate it last year,” Maryam recalls.

She, much like Azhar, also got in touch with her family in January.

“It was devastating when, due to the blocking of telecommunications for a long period, my mother’s WhatsApp account got deleted automatically and she was not in our family group,” Maryam adds.

However, though the valley was grim all through the first year of abrogation, the three students feel reassured that things would be normal as they are back home with their families.

Article 370 of the Indian Constitution was abrogated on August 5, 2019, by the central government revoking special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

Priyali Dhingra

Priyali Dhingra is a post graduate in Communication Studies from Hyderabad Central University. She has previously worked as a photojournalist, editorial, and graphic design intern in The Indian Express, Newslaundry, and NDTV. Reigning from Delhi, she has an avid interest in photojournalism, and all things visual. She has also represented India as a delegate in the JENESYS 2019 Student Exchange Program with the Government of Japan. Having pursued her graduation in history from Delhi University, she was also a part of her college's theatre society. Her primary interests include: photography, poetry & politics.

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