Two candidates of the highly competitive national exam for admission to medical courses have died by suicide in Tamil Nadu, a day before the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test or NEET is to be held amid the coronavirus crisis.
The son of a scrap merchant from Dharmapuri, who had failed NEET last year, and a 19-year-old woman from Madurai who was on wait list after she gave NEET last year, have died by suicide, the police said today.
In a note left behind by the woman, she said she was "apprehensive".
"The girl completed Class 12 in 2017 and last year though she had cleared NEET, she was on wait list. Her father is a sub-inspector and mother a government employee," a police officer told NDTV.
Another 19-year-old student who had given NEET twice died by suicide on Wednesday in the Tamil Nadu's Ariyalur district.
The state has been asking the centre to defer NEET due to the coronavirus crisis. Going a step further, PMK founder S Ramadoss on Wednesday demanded that NEET should be permanently cancelled. "Abolishing NEET is the only solution," he said on Wednesday.
DMK chief MK Stalin another fierce critic of holding the NEET amid COVID-19 pandemic. He has been asking the centre to defer it. "NEET destabilises students," Mr Stalin said.
Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam expressed grief. "Students should learn to face any situation with guts and parents should help them in this," said AIADMK's Mr Panneerselvam.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to admit petitions seeking to defer or cancel NEET scheduled tomorrow. A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan said the authorities will take all possible steps for conducting NEET safely amid the pandemic.
MDMK founder and Rajya Sabha MP Vaiko slammed the BJP-led centre, saying suicides by students in the state were happening due to "imposition" of NEET on them.
Mr Vaiko said despite high Class 12 scores, students from poorer sections were "filtered" in NEET and their medical dreams "destroyed". "Cancellation of NEET alone can prevent such deaths," he said in a statement.
Several opposition-ruled states had asked for the exams to be deferred in a manner that achieves the twin objectives of ensuring that the academic year of students is not wasted and their health and safety are not compromised.
For nearly a decade, Tamil Nadu had abolished medical entrance exam, citing it leads to stress among students and that poor students can't afford private coaching. It had made medical admissions on the basis of Class 12 marks. During the UPA rule, the state had managed Presidential assent that exempted the state from NEET. The BJP government, however, refused exemption.
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