S Anitha was a medical aspirant who committed suicide last week when the Centre denied exemption from the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) 2017. Since then, the Tamil Nadu students have taken to the streets in protest, demanding the government to roll back Centre’s decision.
This demand has been on the rise for over a year state ministers discussing the issue with the Central government, including talks with PM Narendra Modi. They argue that the entrance exam is based on the syllabus set by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and a majority of Tamil Nadu’s aspirants (especially those from a rural background) study under the state board. This sets them at a disadvantage as compared to the few students who have studied at schools affiliated with the CBSE.
Here is a timeline of events that occurred since Anitha’s suicide:
September 13, 2017
The Madras High court sought a reply by September 14 from the state government on the measures taken to prevent students who failed NEET from taking extreme steps like Anitha. The government had been earlier asked to provide counselling for failed candidates, prepare coaching centres for rural students to understand the new system and to rope in prominent personalities of the society to advice students. Read | NEET 2017: Madras High Court seeks state’s reply on measures taken to prevent tragedies, click here
September 8, 2017
The Supreme Court asked the state Chief Secretary and Home Secretary to ensure that there are no law and order problems in the state. It also announced that anyone involved in activities that affects life shall be booked under the appropriate law.
September 7, 2017
Tamil Nadu lawyers boycotted district courts in Coimbatore and formed human chains demanding that Tamil Nadu be exempted from NEET. They also called for a shift in education from the concurrent list of the constitution to the state list.
September 6, 2017
Students on Wednesday staged a flash protest against NEET at the mausoleum of late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa. Police said 28 protestors were held and later released.
September 5, 2017
AIADMK (Amma) deputy general secretary TTV Dhinakaran announced that the students’ wing will hold a protest against the “imposing” of NEET. The protest will take place in Chennai on September 9 and the AIADMK leader has urged volunteers, parents, students and others to take part in order to “protect social justice”.
September 4, 2017
Students from several educational institutions in Puducherry staged a protest at the head post-office. About 40 Naam Tamizhar Katchi Puducherry unit volunteers were taken into custody.
September 3, 2017
Pro-Tamil outfits continued protests. DMK vowed to keep up the fight against NEET. Pro-Dalit Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) staged a protest and attempted to burn a poster of PM Modi. The BJP lashed out against those doing “brutal politics” over the teen’s suicide.
September 2, 2017
Protests erupted across Chennai as students from Left parties including Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and the Revolutionary Students and Youth Front (RSYF) took to the streets of Mount Road.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palaniswami announced a compensation of Rs 7 lakh to Anitha’s family. AIADMK leader TTV Dinakaran, taking to Twitter, expressed shock and distress to hear of Anitha’s death. South cinema celebrities, including Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, also expressed condolences.
September 1, 2017
Anitha had previously scored 1,176 out of 1,200 marks in Plus Two or class 12 exams under the state board. She scored cut-off marks of 199.75 for engineering and 196.75 for medicine and hence was offered a seat in aeronautical engineering course at Madras Institute of Technology. Since her sole aim was to become a doctor, she rejected the seat and filed a petition for the state’s exemption from NEET.
The Centre at first granted this for one year and then took a U-turn to make NEET mandatory for all states. This eventually lead to the girl’s suicide. Read | Girl who went to SC to block NEET in Tamil Nadu kills herself, click here