A group of 20 students from Jammu and Kashmir’s Kishtwar district on Wednesday told Army chief General Bipin Rawat that they lacked Internet connection and had bad roads despite 70 years of independence.

“The country is living in the 21st century, but we are still struggling for basic needs like proper Internet connection. Making calls is also very difficult at times,” complained a 19-year-old, Omash Kumar Koul from Navapachi.

The students also said that it took 12 hours for them to travel from the tehsil to Kishtwar town due to bad conditions of the roads.

“Travelling is a pain in our area. The road conditions are bad and a lot of time is wasted in travelling,” said another student, Moshin Hassan.

Kishtwar district is a hilly region located in Jammu region.

The undergraduate students were here under the Indian Army’s Capacity Building Tour (CBT), which will end in Chennai. The 6,000 km tour that began on Tuesday will conclude on September 12.

The tour was organised by the Army to provide an exposure to select students to the Passing Out Parade at the Officers Training Academy in Chennai on September 8.

Most students are travelling outside of Jammu and Kashmir for the first time. And they were visibly happy.

“We have never seen Delhi. From here we will go to Chennai by train. We will get to see the whole country in between. Most of us will board a train for the first time,” Hassan said.

Akil Jaffer, 17, said he saw another side of the Indian Army during the tour.

“People have different perceptions about the Army back in Kashmir. We will go back and share our experiences about how caring the Army is,” Jaffer said.

The Army chief urged the students to explore different fields in terms of employment.

“All fields are important, be it medicine or teaching. I will encourage you all to join the Army but I will say that all other fields are also important,” he said.