Chennai: Activists of the CPM's student wing SFI today protested outside the CBSE's office in Chennai today, demanding that the NEET for medical admissions in Tamil Nadu be scrapped. The immediate trigger appears to be the death of three parents who were escorting their children to NEET centres.
Krishnasamy's son Kasturi was allotted an exam centre in Kerala's Ernakulam, 500 kilometres away from his hometown Tiruvarur. The 48-year-old died of a heart attack as his son took the exam.
The family blamed it on NEET induced stress. Bharathi Mahadevi, Mr Krishnasamy's wife, said, "He was stressed about NEET and the need to travel to Kerala. It's stress that has led to heart attack."
Niruvan, deputy general secretary of the Students' Federation of India, said NEET should be scrapped. "We have lost many lives," he said.
Some 3,500 NEET candidates from Tamil Nadu had to travel to Kerala to write the exam.
The CBSE said a 31 per cent increase in candidates over the last year necessitated the increase in exam centres. Though the centres were increased from 149 to 170, the CBSE said they could not accommodate all the candidates.
The state government, however, blamed the CBSE for the situation. "We have enough infrastructure. The CBSE ought to have called us. No communication from them. That's the problem," senior minister D Jayakumar said.
Many students from Tamil Nadu were also allotted centres in Rajasthan. CBSE claims these students had given Rajasthan as the last of the three options in their application forms.
For close to a decade, the Tamil Nadu government had made Class 12 marks the basis for medical admission so that rural students who cannot afford private coaching to write entrance tests are not at a disadvantage.
The assembly has adopted a resolution to exempt Tamil Nadu from NEET, but it has not got presidential assent.
Last year, state topper Anitha from rural Tamil Nadu killed herself after she could not crack NEET.
On 27 April, the Madras High Court had asked the CBSE to arrange more exam centres in Tamil Nadu but the Supreme Court stayed the order. Last year, the Supreme Court had struck down Tamil Nadu's petition seeking exemption for students from the state to qualify NEET for admission to medical colleges.