Chennai: A 17-year-old Dalit girl who couldn’t get a medical college seat because she failed to clear the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) and waged a legal battle against the exam, committed suicide on Friday.

S. Anitha, the daughter of a daily wage labourer, hanged herself . She had scored an impressive 1,176 out of 1,200 marks in class XII board examinations, but couldn’t qualify for a medical college seat after she obtained 86 out of 700 in the compulsory NEET.

When senior advocate Nalini Chidambaram moved the Supreme Court against NEET recently, representing Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) students seeking admissions to medical courses on the basis of NEET scores, Anitha, a Tamil Nadu board student, impleaded herself as a respondent.

“I don’t know what NEET is, and my father who has done his best to give me a good education, cannot afford NEET coaching classes," Anitha said then.

Earlier this month, while talking to reporters after challenging NEET in the apex court, Anitha had said: “MBBS is my dream. Due to NEET exam, I was unable to get selected, despite having good cut-off marks."

According to a report in The New Indian Express, Anitha had got an aeronautical engineering seat in the Madras Institute of Technology, and a Bachelor of Veterinary Science seat in Veterinary College, Orathanadu. But she aspired only to be a doctor.

A native of Kuzhumur village in Ariyalur district, Anitha recently told journalist Niyas Ahmed of Vikatan magazine that when inequality is the norm in society a “single test for all" approach is to fool everyone.

Anitha had raised several issues, while talking to Ahmed, on the disparity and inequality in the society to receive a quality education and said that she was echoing the voices of the oppressed and backward students who dream of reaching greater heights through education.

Anitha, who lost her mother early, has four siblings.

Tamil Nadu and other states have been opposing NEET being the sole basis for medical college admissions on grounds that it favoured CBSE students, and had sought an exemption from the entrance test.

Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman claimed on 13 August that the centre was ready to exempt Tamil Nadu from NEET for one year if the state passed an ordinance on it. However, on 22 August, after the Centre said Tamil Nadu cannot be exempted, the apex court directed it to offer medical college admissions solely on the basis of NEET marks.

Meanwhile, holding the state and centre responsible for the death of the teenager, people protested in front of the Ariyalur government hospital, where the postmortem was conducted.

While agitations began across various districts in the state on Friday night, political parties and various students organisations have called for protests on Saturday.

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