A 17-year old Scheduled Caste girl, S. Anitha, who had scored 1,176 out of 1,200 marks in her Class XII State Board examinations but was unable to join the MBBS course due to poor scores in NEET, ended her life in Ariyalur district on Friday.
The daughter of a daily wage labourer, hailing from Kuzhumur village near Sendurai here, had impleaded herself as one of the respondents in a Supreme Court case challenging NEET.
Her death triggered strong reactions from political parties and social activists who had been seeking exemption for the State from NEET. Condoling her death, Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami offered a solatium of ₹7 lakh from the CM’s Relief Fund to her family and a job offer to one of the family members.
If medical admissions had been held on the basis of Plus Two scores as was in vogue for the past decade, Anitha, having scored centum in Physics, 199 in Chemistry and 194 in Biology (she also scored centum in Mathematics), would have secured a cut-off of 196.75 out of 200.
'She had a good chance of securing medical seat'
Considering that the MBBS cut-off for Scheduled Caste candidates last year was only 191.25 last year, she would have, in all probability, bagged a seat in a sought after Government medical college.
However, as admissions were conducted solely on the basis of NEET scores, Anitha did not qualify, as she had scored just 86 marks out of 720 in the test.
When she had gone to New Delhi to implead herself as a respondent in the NEET case in the Supreme Court, she had told journalists, “I want to be a doctor and I will be assured of a seat if the admission is based on Plus Two marks.”
“Her dream had crumbled and Anitha took the extreme step dejected over failing to secure a medical seat because of NEET. Her father and brothers supported the girl to the hilt to realise her ambition, but everything has gone waste,” said a sobbing S. Bhuvaneswari, the girl’s niece, also residing at Kuzhumur village.
Anitha had lost her mother at an early age and her father T. Shanmugam, a load man at the Gandhi Market in Tiruchi, could not afford special coaching for her daughter to prepare for NEET. She is also survived by her four brothers. “The girl seemed to be worried for the past one week although she did not express her emotions. Anitha was a very soft natured girl and was always very calm,” said Ms. Bhuvaneswari, adding that the government should at least now exempt T.N. from NEET.
According to her family, Anitha hung herself inside her house apparently using a saree. The girl’s father Shanmugam and grandmother were away when she took the extreme step. Her grandmother, T. Periammal, who returned home in the afternoon, found the girl hanging inside the house, Ms. Bhuvaneswari said.
As the word spread, angry villagers thronged her house and also staged a road roko at the village for over an hour assailing the State and Central governments for failing to get the state exempted from NEET thereby “crushing the dreams of lakhs of State board students.” The protestors raised slogans demanding immediate withdrawal of NEET.
A section of protesters set on fire an effigy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. As the protests turned intense, a police contingent was moved to the village.
District Collector G. Lakshmi Priya along with Superintendent of Police Abhinav Kumar visited the house of Anitha and consoled the near ones of the girl.
The body of Anitha was later sent for post mortem to the Ariyalur Government Hospital. Police sources said the case would be investigated by a Deputy Superintendent of Police rank officer.
Medical college admissions in Tamil Nadu were conducted solely based on the Plus Two examination marks until last year. Though the Central government introduced NEET last year, Tamil Nadu was exempted from it. This year too, the State government sought exemption and the Legislative Assembly passed amendments to continue the existing practice in medical college admissions.
Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman earlier said the Central government would support Tamil Nadu's ordinance, but in the Supreme Court the Centre changed its stand. The Supreme Court on August 22 directed the Tamil Nadu government to complete counselling process for medical admissions in the State on the basis of the NEET merit list by September 4.
The State's health helpline 104 and Sneha’s suicide prevention helpline 044-24640050 offer counselling for those in distress.
Also read: The Hindu Editorial on Tamil Nadu and NEET - A clear failure