Pro-Tamil outfits continued with their protests for the second day on Sunday over the suicide of a Dalit medical aspirant and a court petitioner against NEET, even as DMK vowed to keep up its fight against the entrance exam. Scores of activists of the ‘May 17 Movement’ outfit were detained in Chennai when they attempted to lay siege to the BJP’s state headquarters in Chennai, police said.
They raised slogans against the Central and state governments over the suicide of 17-year-old Anitha from Ariyalur, daughter of a daily wage earner who allegedly hanged herself at her house in her native village in that district on September 1, reportedly upset over not getting an MBBS seat. Security has been beefed up at the BJP office in Chennai.
Pro-Dalit Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) also staged protests here and scores of its volunteers were detained. They also attempted to burn a poster of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Protests were also held at various locations in Tiruvallore, Kanniyakumari and Thiruvarur districts on this issue.
Anitha was reportedly upset after it became known that Tamil Nadu would not be exempted from the ambit of National Entrance-cum-Eligibility Test (NEET). She had earlier moved the Supreme Court against NEET.
Opposition DMK also targeted BJP and the ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, faulting both for failing to ensure at least one year exemption for the state from NEET. DMK Working President M K Stalin,who late last night paid tributes to Anitha at her native village shortly ahead of the cremation,said his party had donated Rs 10 lakh to her family. Stalin, also Leader of the Opposition in Tamil Nadu Assembly, told reporters at Ariyalur late last night that he has convened a meeting of various parties in Chennai on Monday to discuss the NEET row.
Interestingly, jailed AIADMK chief V K Sasikala’s brother V Divakaran backed the meeting, though the party’s Deputy General Secretary T T V Dhinakaran ruled out AIADMK’s participation. “I will not participate but those from our movement are going,” Divakaran told reporters at Puthukottai. He also slammed Health Minister C Vijayabaskar on the NEET issue. However, Divakaran’s nephew Dhinakaran ruled out AIADMK’s participation in tomorrow’s meeting convened by his party’s arch rival DMK. “How can we participate,”he told reporters at Perambalur. When pointed out at Divakaran’s statement, Dhinakaran indicated that it could be the former’s “personal view.”
Meanwhile, vowing to keep the fight against NEET on, Stalin said his party would align with like-minded forces for this purpose. NEET had affected social justice in Tamil Nadu, he said. “DMK will align with like-minded forces to uphold the key Dravidian policy of social justice, retrieve the rights of the state, bring Education under the State List and ensure nobody else suffers Anitha’s fate in Tamil Nadu,” he said in a letter to his party men.
The BJP lashed out against those doing “brutal politics” over the teen’s suicide. BJP state President Tamilisai Sounderrajan also took objection to the “insult” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the issue. “Insulting Prime Minister Modi cannot be accepted,” she said in a brief statement, apparently referring to effigies of the PM being burnt by protesters at Coimbatore yesterday and similar attempts at the VCK protest here today.
Pro-Dalit leader and founder of Puthiya Tamizhagam, Dr S Krishnasamy, alleged that an effort was being made to turn Anitha into a “brand” against NEET. He alleged certain individuals who were against NEET were making “efforts to use Anitha as a brand” against the entrance exam and sought a CBI probe into the girl’s death.