Four days after the alleged suicide of 17-year-old S Anitha on Friday, September 1, protests in Tamil Nadu by college students continue. Their demand is the same as Anitha’s – NEET-based medical admissions should not be followed in the state.
Students of SRM University, Chennai and Valliammai Engineering College in Potheri near Chennai, formed a human chain urging the government to abolish NEET as the best tribute to Anitha, reported The Hindu. One of the students, Joseph, who coordinated the protest, said Tamil Nadu must be allowed to admit students to MBBS/BDS courses based on their Plus Two scores. A similar exemption was granted to Andhra Pradesh under Article 371 (D) of the Constitution.
In Puducherry, students boycotted classes and came forward in a large procession from Anna Salai to the head post office. Their demonstration outside the office condemned the Centre and the state governments while raising slogans for Anitha’s death. The agitators owed allegiance to the Students Federation of India (SFI) and various other outfits. Policemen had to be deployed in large numbers on Rangapillai Street as the students planned to lay siege to the Raj Nivas (government house).
In Madurai, students protested in the Kamaraj University Campus and boycotted classes. Protests were also held at various locations in Tiruvallore, Kanniyakumari and Thiruvarur districts.
The agitation spread to central districts of Tamil Nadu which also witnessed students boycotting classes and taking to the streets. Several protesters were taken into custody by the police in Tiruchi and neighbouring districts. On Monday, a group of students affiliated to All India Students Federation and other organisations continued their fast for the third day in front of KAP Government Medical College in Tiruchi.
Demanding justice for Anitha, a “wailing protest” was organised by women members of pro-Tamil ‘Naam Tamizhar Katchi’ at Palayamkottai in Tirunelveli district.
Opposing the NEET, political parties and other outfits said it will affect rural students.
A group of students also tried to stage a protest near Chief Minister K Palaniswami’s house in Chennai near Greenways Road. Slogans were also raised against lawyer Nalini, the wife of senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, who had represented pro-NEET students in the court.
The DMK vowed to keep up its fight against NEET even as scores of students took to the streets and were detained by the police. The opposition also targeted BJP and the ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, blaming them for failing to ensure at least one-year exemption for the state from the examination.
On Saturday night, DMK Working President M K Stalin paid tributes to Anitha at her native village shortly ahead of her cremation. Stalin, who is also the leader of opposition in the Assembly, also said that his party had donated Rs 10 lakh to her family.
The BJP lashed out against those resorting to “brutal politics” over the teen’s suicide.
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.
On Friday, September 1, 17-year-old medical aspirant from Ariyalur, S Anitha, committed suicide by hanging herself to death. The teen was unable to bear the stress of failing to secure a medical seat as NEET was made compulsory in Tamil Nadu.
Last month, she had written to the Supreme Court seeking stay for NEET based admission in medical colleges. The daughter of a daily wage earner, she believed that this would shatter aspirants from rural backgrounds.
Though Anitha could not crack NEET but a meritorious student from poor Dalit family, she had secured 1176 marks in the plus two exams this year. With a medical cutoff of 196.75, she was assured of a seat if admissions would have been made based on the plus two marks. She would have been the first doctor from her community in her entire village of Kuzhumur.
She died nine days after the SC’s direction to Tamil Nadu to follow NEET for admissions to medical courses.
The Tamil Nadu government had sent a Rs 7 lakh cheque to Anitha’s family which they rejected saying that she gave up her life for a cause and not for any government aid.