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NTA contemplates closure of exam centre in Kashmir, sparks concerns among aspirants

SRINAGAR, SEP 26: In a surprising turn of events, the National Testing Agency (NTA), responsible for conducting various competitive exams across India, is reportedly considering the closure of its recently established examination centre in the Hayatpora area of Budgam district in Kashmir.

This development comes just months after the NTA inaugurated the centre, which was equipped with approximately 600 computers to accommodate a significant number of students simultaneously during national-level examinations.

The revelation about the potential closure of the Budgam centre was communicated to its employees by the centre’s head, leaving them in a state of uncertainty and confusion regarding their future prospects.

An unnamed official from the centre expressed their dilemma, stating, “The top official overseeing the Budgam centre conveyed to the employees here that NTA has ordered the closure of the centre. Now we are in a fix, not knowing what to do next.”

The establishment of the Budgam examination centre had been met with public outcry, as there had been concerns over the allocation of examination centres for students from the Kashmir Valley being located outside Jammu and Kashmir. Recently, similar concerns were raised during the allocation of examination centres for the Common University Entrance Test (CUET) for Kashmiri students, leading to protests from students and parents. Eventually, the examination centers were relocated to the Valley.

The official in charge of the NTA centre in Budgam explained that they had successfully conducted the CUET exam, accommodating around 13,000 students from different parts of Kashmir. Additionally, they conducted the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) exam, serving approximately 1,200 aspirants from the Valley, as well as candidates from Poonch, Shopian, Banihal, and other areas.

The centre had been gearing up to host prestigious national-level competitive exams such as the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) and the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) in 2024, offering valuable opportunities for local students. However, following internal communication from the NTA headquarters just a few days ago, the future of the center is now uncertain.

Stakeholders, including the President of the Private School Association Jammu and Kashmir (PSAJK), GN Var, have expressed their concerns, emphasizing that this decision could create a crisis during the 2024 exams.

Var called on Jammu and Kashmir’s Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, to take cognisance of the situation and prevent the relocation of NTA centres from Kashmir. He urged the establishment of permanent examination centers in the region to alleviate the distress of students and their parents.

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