A student in Tamil Nadu died by suicide on Monday, a day after she took the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test, India Today reported.
The girl, a resident of the state’s Ariyalur district, feared that she might not clear the exam, The New Indian Express reported, quoting a unidentified police officer.
The incident took place on the same day that the Tamil Nadu Assembly passed a Bill to scrap the entrance exam for admission to undergraduate medical degree courses in the state .
“Despite their parents offering support, the victim was unhappy,” the police officer told The New Indian Express. He added that the girl killed herself after her parents went for a family function at a nearby town.
This is the second instance in two days of a NEET aspirant dying by suicide in Tamil Nadu.
On Sunday, a student in Salem district had reportedly killed himself hours before the NEET examination. He had failed to clear the test twice before.
In the Ariyalur case, the girl’s family said that she had scored well in her board exams, but was anxious about the NEET, India Today reported. The police have filed a first information report in the matter, according to IANS.
Medical admissions in Tamil Nadu used to be based on marks obtained by students in their Class 12 exams before the Centre in 2017 made NEET compulsory across all states and education boards.
Questions for the NEET are prepared by the Central Board of Secondary Education based on its own syllabus, which is different from the Tamil Nadu board’s curriculum. Due to this, Tamil Nadu has been opposing the examination, arguing that a common entrance test would harm the prospects of state board students.
Scrapping NEET was one of the key promises of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin’s party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, ahead of the Assembly elections held in April.
In June, the DMK had set up a high-level committee led by retired Madras High Court Judge AK Rajan to study the impact of NEET on aspirants from socially disadvantaged sections of society.
The committee found that NEET favoured “affordable and affluent segments of the society, while equally thwarting the dream of pursuing medical education by the underprivileged social groups”.
MK Stalin vows to continue legal battle to scrap NEET
Following the girl’s death, Stalin vowed to continue the legal fight for scrapping the test, reported PTI.
“Right from the beginning, we are opposing NEET, which is shattering the dreams of Tamil Nadu students to pursue medical education,” Stalin said in a statement. “We have started a legal struggle in full swing with the passing of the Bill, supported by all parties, barring the BJP.”
The chief minister said that incidents such as impersonation during the exams, sale of question papers and other dishonest practices done by coaching centres show that NEET cannot judge the eligibility of a candidate.
Stalin also appealed to parents to build confidence in their children so that they do not die “for the sake of life saving medical education”. The chief minister also offered his condolences to the family of the girl.
The chief minister’s son and the secretary of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s youth wing, Udhayanidhi Stalin, said the death of the girl has caused him mental agony and grief.
“The sale of question paper for Rs 35 lakh is the fresh example of NEET being only a thing of betrayal and conspiracy,” he said “Suicide is not the solution for the Union [government’s] NEET conspiracy.”
Meanwhile, the Opposition All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam,said that the DMK should stop its “political drama” on NEET.
In a statement, leader of Opposition Edappadi K Palaniswami said that the state government should offer counselling to aspirants who have appeared for the exams through a panel comprising psychologists and educationists.
“Such experts should instill courage and confidence in students and also explain to them about several other paramedical courses available and its utility in case they failed to get through the NEET,” the AIADMK leader said. “Parents should monitor their children and render proper advise.”
Palaniswami also expressed shock at the girl’s death and urged students not to take such extreme steps. He told them that there are many educational courses open to them and the medical field is not the only path.
Pattali Makkal Katchi leader Anbumani Ramadoss said that the girl had scored well in her school exams but the fact that admissions to medical colleges would be based only the marks of NEET led to her death.
“At the same time, the student community should be prepared to fight any situation,” Ramadoss added. “No one should end their lives.”
(The Tamil Nadu Health Department’s suicide helpline is 104, and the number for the Sneha Suicide Prevention Centre in Chennai is 044-2464-0050)