Chennai: Protests against the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) intensified across the state of Tamil Nadu on Tuesday, as students continued to agitate against the centre and state following the death of 17-year-old S. Anitha on Friday.
Students and student organizations held agitations in Chennai, Coimbatore, Dindigul, Krishnagiri, Trichy, Perambalur, Cuddalore and Nagapattinam among other places.
Dalit student Anitha had committed suicide on Friday having failed to clear the NEET. Chorus has seen then been growing louder demanding the scrapping of the medical entrance test. She had an impressive 1,176 out of 1,200 marks in Class XII board examinations and had a 196.75 cut-off for a medical seat, as per the state education department’s evaluation. However, with NEET being made compulsory for admissions to medical courses, she was unable to get through MBBS admissions.
While the opposition party Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) has planned a public meeting over the NEET issue on 8 September in Tiruchipalli, the sidelined deputy general secretary of the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) T.T.V. Dhinakaran has announced a protest in Chennai on 9 September.
“NEET, which is taking away the rights of the poor people in the rural areas and affecting their dreams of getting admitted into a medical college, should be scrapped," Dhinakaran said in a statement on Tuesday. “Since Amma’s (late chief minister J. Jayalalithaa) demise, we are witnessing every right of the state being compromised and this should not continue. The social justice the Tamils got after much struggle should be upheld," he added.
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On Tuesday, while many had boycotted their classes and protested within the campuses, some took to streets across the state. Students in Thiruttani blocked trains, Tamil news channel Puthiya Thalaimurai reported.
In Chennai, various student federations agitated in front of the Chennai central railway station on Tuesday morning. Hundreds of students protested outside Loyola College in Chennai. Students of Madras University, Presidency College and others also boycotted classes and agitated.
In Coimbatore, hundreds of lawyers boycotted court proceedings to protest against the government and sought justice for Anitha who had pleaded as one of the respondents in the Supreme Court and waged a legal battle against NEET.
In neighbouring Puducherry too, students took to streets and blocked roads demanding the scrapping of NEET.
The 17-year old student’s death had immediately sparked the wrath of the people of Tamil Nadu who have been opposing the entrance test being the sole basis for admissions to medical colleges on the grounds that it favoured the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) students.
While agitations are underway in the state since Friday night, many outfits and political parties who protested against the government on Saturday were detained.
On Monday, police arrested protestors in Chennai, Coimbatore, Trichy and other places.
The police had beefed up security in places like Marina beach in Chennai, Anna Nagar Link Road in Trichy and other prominent places in the state that were the venues for pro- Jallikattu protests in January, this year.
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.