Mumbai : Union Minister of State for Social Justice, Ramdas Athawale on Saturday termed the death by suicide of Dalit student Anitha as unfortunate, but appealed to students to abide by examination rules.
Seventeen-year-old Anitha, a resident of Tamil Nadu’s Ariyalur district, was spearheading the fight against National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) exams.
Anitha, 17, whose performance in state board class 12 exams was spectacular, committed suicide after she failed to get a medical seat.
She had scored 1176 out of 1200 marks in her Class 12 exams.
Anitha killed herself at her residence a week after the Centre declared that Tamil Nadu cannot be exempted from NEET.
She also scored 196.75 out of 200 for medical and 199.76 out of 200 for engineering seat.
Her outstanding scores in class 12 in all likelihood could have helped her in cracking the medical entrance exam.
But, she could not make it to the NEET. She had scored only 86 out of 700 in the newly-introduced entrance exam.
She had obtained a seat in aeronautical engineering at the prestigious Madras Institute of Technology.
On August 22, the Supreme Court ordered Tamil Nadu government to begin medical admissions based on NEET.
The verdict came after the Centre refused to endorse Tamil Nadu’s draft Ordinance seeking exemption from NEET for one year.
Anitha was one of the many students who were in shock to know that they had to compete once again in NEET exams to get a medical seat.
Anitha had earlier said that she was unable to comprehend NEET.
She being a daughter of a daily wage earner was unable to spend money on extra coaching class as NEET is based on CBSE syllabus.
The political parties of Tamil Nadu favoured exemption for students of the state from NEET.
The EK Palaniswami government passed a resolution and sought Centre’s approval. Incidentally, during Jayalalithaa’s regime, she had consecutively secured exemption for two years for the students of Tamil Nadu just by writing a letter to the Prime Minister.
However, with AIADMK grappling with in-fighting, no concrete measures were taken to get exemption this year.
At the neck of the moment, Tamil Nadu Health Minister Vijayabhaskar and Chief Minister EK Palaniswami made a few trips to New Delhi to meet the Prime Minister.
Eventually, the Centre agreed to extend the exemption for one more year provided Tamil Nadu government passed a resolution.
But, it was not to be a total exemption. However, the Supreme Court ruled that no student other than those securing seat through NEET would be allowed to get admission.
Anitha could not qualify NEET and could not bear the shock of failure.
State Health Minister Vijayabhaskar expressed grief on Anitha’s suicide and appealed to students not to lose hope so easily.
“NEET exam was introduced by the Government of India, which works on merit basis. Earlier, several students used to suffer because of the aspect of donations during admissions. It is unfortunate that Anitha has committed suicide. I appeal to the students to abide by the rules of particular exams,” Athawale told ANI.
He added that the Government of India will heed to the issue definitely as to what changes can be brought about.
“If NEET exam is cancelled then we can ponder over some other alternative. I think NEET exam should happen and students must seriously think about it,” he asserted.
DMK leader MK Stalin expressed shock over Anitha’s suicide saying, “She got 1176 in plus-2 and good cutoff marks too. But due to NEET, her dreams were shattered. She even approached the Supreme Court. She also met me and asked to raise the matter in the Assembly. I raised the issue in the Assembly the very next day. Unfortunately, she killed herself,” said Stalin.
Stalin blamed the Palaniswami government for Anitha’s death calling it “a useless and a horse trading government.”
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palaniswami announced solatium of Rs 7 lakh to Anita’s family and a government job to from the family.
The chief minister assured that measures will be taken to secure students welfare.
Tamil superstar Kamal Haasan said that he was deeply affected by the death of the teenager.
He said that Anitha committed suicide because there was no exemption in NEET.
“We should see that no student takes the drastic measure in future. Do not be dejected, this is not the end. We will fight for justice and will win,” said the actor.
Earlier in the day, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami announced a compensation of Rs. 7 lakh to the family of Anitha, who committed suicide by hanging herself at her house after failing to get admission in medical college based on NEET marks.
Meanwhile, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) leader TTV Dhinakaran condoled the death of Anitha.
He took to Twitter saying that, “I was distressed and shocked to hear that the beloved daughter who struggled against NEET test committed suicide”.
Anitha’s family, relatives and villagers staged a road roko holding the State and centre responsible for her death. (ANI)