Villupuram/Chennai, An academically “bright” daughter of a farmhand committed suicide in Tamil Nadu’s Villupuram district after failing to clear the NEET, police said today, with the tragedy set off a political blame game.
The tragic death of the medical aspirant prompted a call by DMK working president M K Stalin to chief ministers of southern states, barring Tamil Nadu, but including West Bengal, to oppose the NEET, as it “discriminated against non- Hindi speaking students” and put those from the economically weaker sections at “fundamental disadvantage”.
Prateebha, 19, ended her life by consuming poison at Senji town after she could not crack the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) whose results were declared yesterday, the second such incident in the state since last year.
Prateebha ingested poison soon after she came to know that she had flunked the test, conducted for admissions to medical and dental colleges in the country, and began vomiting. She was rushed to a hospital, where the doctor who examined her initially, referred her to a bigger facility, but she could not be saved.
This was Pratibha’s second attempt at clearing the NEET, which many students from the state who study at Tamil medium schools find a hard nut to crack. Even those studying in English medium government or government-aided schools find it difficult to make the cut as their syllabus is not in sync with those of central boards.
In her suicide note, Pratibha said she dreamt of becoming a doctor but the questions were too difficult for her to even understand, police said.
Describing her as a “bright” student, police said the girl had secured 490 marks out of 500 in her class 10 board examination, and 1125 out of 1200 in class 12. She, however, got only 39 out of 700 in the NEET.
The state had witnessed widespread protests last year when Anitha, a Dalit girl from Ariyalur, ended her life for failing to clear the NEET.
The tragic incident had its echo in the state assembly, with opposition DMK and Congress staging a walkout.
The Tamil Nadu Assembly had adopted two resolutions last year seeking an exemption for the students from the state from NEET.
“How many Prathibhas and Anitha’s are we going to lose?” Stalin asked while speaking on a special calling attention motion moved by him and members of the Congress, a DMK ally.
He alleged there were discrepancies in the NEET question paper printed in Tamil for which Pratibha appeared.
Stalin, also the Leader of the Opposition, wanted to know from the government the status of the two resolutions sent to the Centre for the President’s approval.
Health Minister C Vijayabhaskar recalled efforts made by the government to do away with NEET, including various representations to the Centre and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
He, however, said the Supreme Court had ruled against exemption on an appeal by some students.
There were heated exchanges when Vijayabhaskar said Congress leader P Chidambaram’s lawyer wife Nalini had appeared for students who were against the grant of exemption.
School Education Minister K A Sengottaiyan said the government’s efforts for preparing students for competitive examinations like NEET have borne result, with the greater number of aspirants from government and aided schools clearing the test this year.
Stalin also put out a tweet tagging on-BJP chief Ministers of the south, besides Mamata Banerjee, asking them to oppose NEET, saying it put rural students at a “fundamental disadvantage”.
“I urge the Chief Ministers @CMOKerala @CMofKarnataka @TelanganaCMO @AndhraPradeshCM @CMPuducherry @MamataOfficial to oppose the NEET exam as it puts rural and economically weaker students at a fundamental disadvantage.”
“The discrepancies in the translated NEET question papers have discriminated against non-Hindi speaking students. I urge all Chief Ministers of non-BJP ruling states to join together in opposing this unfair test on this ground also. #NEETKillsPradeeba #BanNeet,” he said in the tweet.
Superstar Rajinikanth, who has decided to take the political plunge, called Prateebha’s death “pitiable”, and said such incidents should not recur.
State Congress president Su Thirunavukkarasar urged students against taking such an extreme step and demanded that the central and state governments provide Prateebha’s family a compensation of Rs 1 crore.
T Velmurugan-led Tamizhaga Vazvurimai Katchi (TVK) expressed concern over the death of both Prateebha and Anitha.
AAP state convenor SAN Vaseegaran demanded that the Palaniswami government step down taking moral responsibility for the death of Prateebha and Anitha.
BJP state president Tamilisai Soundararajan insisted NEET was “beneficial” for rural students, but said students who fail to make the cut should explore the “next big” choice and not commit suicide.
She also asked political parties to desist from creating a “bleak” picture about NEET.