There are wide-spread protests across Tamil Nadu a day after a 17-year-old Dalit student, who had fought against the common entrance exam for medical colleges in the Supreme Court, committed suicide allegedly after she did not get an admission into a medical college. S Anitha had scored 1,176 marks out of 1,200 in her board exams in Tamil Nadu but did not perform well in the National Eligibility and Entrance Test, commonly referred to as “NEET.”
Around 1,500 workers from different opposition groups shouted slogans and protested at five different places in Chennai this morning targeting the E Palaniswami government in the state and the BJP at the centre for their failure in getting an exemption from NEET for medical admission. Nearly 300 workers of CPM were detained by the police after they blocked the famous Anna Salai road in Chennai.
Anitha was from a village in Ariyalur district, around 300 kilometres from Chennai. Her father, a daily wage labourer, said they found her hanging. As a mark of protest, shops are shut today in Ariyalur.
A year ago, the Supreme Court had ordered all medical colleges across the country to use NEET to decide admissions. Tamil Nadu, which has close to 40 medical colleges, said its students are at a disadvantage while taking NEET, which it alleged is more apt for students who study in CBSE schools, and punishes poor and rural students who cannot afford the private tuition classes usually needed to score high on common entrance exams like NEET and JEE, which is used for engineering students.
The top court exempted the state from NEET last year, but refused a request to continue the exemption this year.
The centre said if the Tamil Nadu government was to issue an ordinance or executive order that would effectively circumvent NEET, it would back the move. But abruptly, last week, it said the opposite in the Supreme Court, which then ordered Tamil Nadu to use NEET as its sole criterion for college admissions.
Pro NEET campaigners claim that the exam helps identify the best candidates to become doctors.