The father of an aspiring medical student from Tamil Nadu's Ariyalur district has alleged that his son, 19-year-old Vignesh, died by suicide over fear and anxiety about the forthcoming National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET). However, no suicide note has been recovered yet.
Four days ahead of the exam, Vignesh's body was found floating in a well.
Following the incident, political parties in the state began reiterating their demand to scrap the test.
Although inquiries are underway to establish whether Vignesh's death was a suicide or not, his father, Vishwanathan, has maintained that his son had failed to clear the test in two earlier attempts, and ended his life in anxiety over his score this time. Although Vignesh had secured a seat in agricultural sciences last year, he had decided to study further to crack NEET.
"Yesterday, we took him out to buy new clothes. Around 5.30pm, we took him to the temple. We returned and then he studied till 9pm and went to sleep. Usually, he used to wake up at 4am and start studying. This was his routine. When I woke up at 4.30am, I did not find him anywhere. At 9am, we found his chappals near a well and that is how we found out. It is only because of stress due to NEET that he decided to end his life," Vishwanathan told News18.
The body was sent for autopsy to a government hospital.
Demanding that the exam be scrapped immediately, villagers staged a demonstration.
"When the merciless Central government would stop the NEET. How many more lives should we lose?" asked DMK president MK Stalin.
NEET was opposed by amil Nadu parties, including the ruling AIDMK, who claimed that it went against social justice, the backward classes and interests of rural students who could not afford coaching classes.
"The Central government has been saying that NEET is to upgrade the standard of medical education and prevent commercialisation of medical education. If it is true that the quality of medical education has been rising, many who scored much less than Vignesh in NEET must not have been allowed to join private medical colleges by pumping in loads of money," PMK founder leader S Ramadoss said in a statement.
"..the opportunity to join medical college must not have been denied to Vignesh just because he did not have money to join a medical college though he cleared the NEET," he added.
According to the PMK top leader, an ally of the ruling AIADMK-led alliance in which the BJP is also a constituent, NEET was being held only for private coaching institutions to indulge in profiteering. "If this situation continues, there is a threat of many students resorting to suicide every year due to fear and frustration over the NEET. To prevent this, the Centre should come forward to permanently scrap the NEET. Also, the Tamil Nadu government must provide a solatium of Rs 50 lakh to Vignesh's family and a government job to one of his family members," the PMK leader said.
Students across the country have demanded that the exam be postponed as they feel that the pandemic has come in their way to prepare well for it. Unavailability of coaching classes is also an issue that they cited.
Ariyalur, an agriculture-dominant district, has witnessed massive anti-NEET protests. Another MBBS aspirant, Anitha, had ended her life here as the medical entrance test had derailed her dreams of pursuing medical studies.
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