Protests continued in Tamil Nadu for the third day today against the suicide of a Dalit medical aspirant and anti-NEET court petitioner, with students hitting the streets against the central and state governments. Students and pro-Tamil activists resorted to road and rail blockade and boycotted classes in various districts like Tiruvallore and Kanchipuram.
Protests were also held in Coimbatore city, Tiruchirapalli and Thanjavur. Meanwhile, the opposition DMK, which has been targetting BJP and ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, faulting both for failing to ensure at least one year exemption for the state from NEET, convened a meeting of various parties to discuss the issue and the death of 17 year-old Anitha.
Convened by DMK working President M K Stalin, the meeting was attended by Congress, Left parties and Pro-Dalit Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK). The meeting passed two resolutions, one of which condoled Anitha’s death. The second said that the Centre and state governments should take responsibility for her death.
“If NEET had not been imposed in Tamil Nadu,she would have got into the medical course and been among us. Since it was made compulsory, she could not realise her dreams,” it said adding that she had scored 776 out of 1200 marks in the Class 12 exam. It said a protest would be held at Tiruchirapalli on September 8 to condemn the central and state governments over this issue and added that by implementing NEET, BJP had ‘ruined’ social justice in Tamil Nadu.
The protest meeting would also demand permanent exemption for Tamil Nadu from NEET and to bring education under the state list, it said. In Bengaluru, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar declined to comment when asked for his reaction to anti-NEET protests over Anitha’s death, saying it was an issue which has been decided by the Supreme Court.
“National Entrance-cum-Eligibility Test (NEET) is a issue which has been decided by Supreme Court and therefore, I will not make any comments,” he told reporters. Protests had erupted in Tamil Nadu soon after 17-year-old Anitha, daughter of a daily wage earner, allegedly hanged herself at her house in Ariyalur district.
She was reportedly upset after it became known that Tamil Nadu would not be exempted from the ambit of NEET. The Supreme Court had last month asked the Tamil Nadu Government to start counselling for admissions to MBBS and BDS seats in the state based on the NEET merit list.
It had given the directive after Centre told the court that it was not in favour of a recent ordinance passed by the state to exempt it from NEET this year.