17-year-old MBBS aspirant Anitha S had committed suicide on Friday, months after Supreme Court dismissed her petition against the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET)
A day after 17-year-old MBBS aspirant Anitha S, a resident of Ariyalur district in Tamil Nadu, who had been upset over not qualifying for a medical course through the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) committed suicide, massive protests erupted across Tamil Nadu on Saturday.
Several political parties, including the principal opposition party DMK, the CPI (M) and affiliates Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) along with the TTV Dhinakaran faction of the ruling AIADMK, and various pro-Tamil social outfits joined the agitation, demanding that the Centre immediately scrap NEET.
In Chennai, students and politicians protested at nine places, and at least 450 people, including 80 women, were arrested by the police. Effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi were also burnt by the agitators. A students outfit tried to picket the government-run Multi- Super Speciality Hospital at Omanthurar Estate in Chennai. Its members were detained.
While CPM cadres protested in front of Tarapore tower on Anna Salai led by party leader G Ramakrishnan, members of Dravidian party – Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) – also staged protests in Kilpauk. Similar agitations were also reported from Wallajah Road, Saidapet, Neelankarai and the state’s secretariat building.
At Palayamkottai in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district, a “wailing protest” was held by women members of pro-Tamil outfit Naam Tamizhar Katchi while students and several youth organisations across Coimbatore, Salem and Rameswaram also staged agitations demanding justice for Anitha and immediate withdrawal of NEET.
#WATCH: Villagers in Ariyalur district's Kulumur protest over death of #Anitha who appealed against NEET in SC, demand justice #TamilNadu pic.twitter.com/m658uINM29— ANI (@ANI) September 2, 2017
DMK working president MK Stalin blamed the state’s Edappadi Palaniswami government and the Centre for the incident. Chief minister Palaniswami has announced ex-gratia of Rs 7 lakh for Anitha’s family and a government job to a next of kin.
Tamil filmtars Rajinikanth and Kamal Hassan – who had on Friday announced his intent of joining politics and asserted that governments must worry about the people who are dying – have also expressed their grief over Anitha’s death.
“We need to ensure that no student should take such drastic step in the future. This is not the end. We will fight and win. We have to make our argument louder in court,” Kamal Haasan told reporters.
Superstar Rajinikath took to Twitter to express his condolence.
#RipAnitha pic.twitter.com/p5t507dLaQ— Rajinikanth (@superstarrajini) September 1, 2017
Who was Anitha?
Daughter of a daily wage earner, Anitha dreamed of becoming a doctor. She was found hanging at her house in a village in Ariyalur district yesterday. She was reportedly upset after it became known that Tamil Nadu will not be exempted from the ambit of NEET.
Last month, Anitha had told the “NEET is a hurdle to people from rural backgrounds and poorer sections of the society who could not afford the costly preparation courses for the examination.” Students would also face problems in availing such courses in remote areas, she had argued.
Although she had scored 1,176 marks in her Class 12 examination ranked first in her district with a score of 100 in Physics and Mathematics, Anitha had failed to meet the NEET criteria to earn a MBBS admission. She had even approached the Supreme Court against the NEET regimen but her petition was dismissed.
The apex court had last month asked the state government to start counselling for admissions to MBBS and BDS seats in Tamil Nadu based on the NEET merit list. The directive was issued after the Centre told the Supreme Court that it was not in favour of a recent ordinance passed by the Tamil Nadu Government that exempted the state from NEET this year.
Anitha’s teachers too expressed their shock at her suicide and protested against the NEET regime. “Anitha was the only student who had scored 100% marks in Physics and Mathematics in the whole district. It is a pity that even after getting such high marks and qualifying for medical as per state government rules, she was denied admission due to the Centre’s attitude,” one of her teachers told the media in Ariyalur seeking anonymity.
The argument that NEET would adversely impact the chances of students from rural areas getting admissions to their dream courses , said political analyst Prof Ramu Manivannan of the Madras University, was one that the Tamil Nadu government had put forward to reject NEET. “Former chief minister J Jayalalithaa had blocked its implementation during her lifetime. After her death, the AIADMK government has become weak and even has become anti-people and succumbed to pressure from the Centre,” Prof Manivannan said.
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