At least 95% of Class XII students appeared for their state board exams on Monday, defying separatists' diktats against re-opening of schools and colleges that have been forcibly been shut for the past four months in the Valley.

The syllabus for the final examination was reduced by 50% because of the unrest and closure of schools since the killing of Hizbul chief Burhan Wani in July this year. Studies have been severely hit, with rioting mobs torching more than 30 schools during four months of protests. Class X exams begin on Tuesday. Both board exams will be held concurrently until December 3 in more than 1,000 centres across the Valley.

Saiyeefa Syed, 17, a student of Kothi Bagh girls' higher secondary school, arrived at her examination centre, Maulana Azad women's college, near Regal Chowk, to take her chemistry test at 11am. “I came from Rainawari in the downtown area on a scooter,” she said, adding that almost all her classmates were present and that the question paper wasn't too difficult.

Her father, Syed Altaf Hussain, a shawl trader, said he was initially worried about the safety of his daughter because of the boycott call by the separatists. “But now I am satisfied with the security around the examination centre,” Hussain said. Like Hussain, hundreds of parents waited anxiously outside exam centres in Srinagar. “I am waiting for my daughter, Farzana Rashid,“ said Shafakat Akhtar, who seemed more concerned about how her child would fare in the exam than about threats from separatists. Zahoor Ahmad Chatt, chairman of the Jammu & Kashmir School Board of Education, said out of 32,044 students, 30,292 took their tests on Monday. “The exams were held without any disruption,” Chatt said.

The state government organised security at 484 exam centres across the Valley. Around 6,200 teachers were deputed as superintendents and invigilators. Restrictions prevailed around all examination centres to ensure smooth conduct of exams besides categorising centres as `hypersensitive', `sensitive' and `normal' owing to vulnerability and local circumstances.

Twenty-five boys and girls took the Arabic language class 12 test at Government Girls' Higher Secondary School at Hyderpora, near the home of Hurriyat separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

“The exams took place peacefully,” a supervisor said. However, board authorities shifted eight centres in south Kashmir because of stone-pelting and other security issues.