Chennai: Opposition parties in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday staged protests outside all district headquarters against the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for medical college admissions.

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Congress, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, and Indian Union Muslim League took part in the demonstrations.

Neighbouring Union territory Puducherry also witnessed anti-NEET agitations on Wednesday.

While opposition leader and DMK working president M.K. Stalin led protests in Tambaram on the outskirts of Chennai, Tamil Nadu Congress Committee chief S. Thirunavukkarsar led a protest meet in Chennai.

The suicide of 17-year-old S. Anitha earlier this month intensified opposition to NEET being the sole basis for medical college admissions. The state has opposed the test and has sought exemption from it.

On Wednesday, demanding justice for Anitha, Stalin said: “It is a protest to safeguard the interests of the students." He alleged the Centre and the state government had worked out a deal to benefit NEET coaching centres.

Tamil Nadu which was given an exemption last year, had been pressing the Centre over the issue.

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.

The suicide of Anitha, who had approached Supreme Court against admission to the medical colleges through the NEET, became the rallying point for the statewide agitations.

Last week, the apex court directed the state to “ensure that law and order is maintained."

“The chief secretary shall see to it that anyone involved in any kind of ‘bandh’ or activity that disrupts the normal life and detrimentally affects law and order in the state of Tamil Nadu, shall be booked under the appropriate law," said a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra.

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