New Delhi: Nearly 16 lakh students will take the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test or NEET on Sunday, September 13, after pitched efforts by students, activists and opposition leaders to get the exam postponed in order to avoid the spread of coronavirus failed.
It is mandatory for students to wear masks. Many have arrived at exam centres in face shields and gloves as well.
Last Wednesday, the Supreme Court refused to entertain a batch of pleas seeking deferment or cancellation of NEET. A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan had said authorities will take all necessary steps for conducting the NEET-undergraduate exam amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi wished students appearing for NEET, expressing his sympathies with those who could not take it due to the COVID-19 pandemic and floods.
My best wishes to the students appearing for NEET exam and my sympathies to those who couldn’t take it due to the Covid pandemic and floods.
Wish Modi ji was as concerned about JEE-NEET aspirants & students as he is about his crony capitalist friends.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) September 13, 2020
States have devised their own regulations to ensure that most number of students get to answer the exams. The Odisha government on Saturday, for instance, said that the candidates having high temperature and certain symptoms of COVID, but not tested positive, will be allowed to take the test.
Punjab, which has enforced a system of weekend curfews, has lifted it for this weekend to facilitate the journey of students to and from the exam centres.
In Bengal, the statewide lockdown on September 12, was lifted in view of students travelling to the exam centre.
Tamil Nadu suicides
In Tamil Nadu, the eve of the exams were marked by three deaths by suicide among NEET aspirants.
The deaths brought back the focus on NEET in the state, with all political parties except BJP opposed to the qualifying exam.
A woman, Jothisri Durga, and two men, M. Adithya and Motilal – all aged between 19 and 21 – died by suicide in Madurai, Dharmapuri and Namakkal districts.
The deaths come days after another medical aspirant in Ariyalur in the state also allegedly died by suicide.
Opposition parties in the state led by the DMK slammed the BJP-led Centre over the NEET issue, even as the ruling AIADMK, also opposed to the exam, condoled the deaths of the youngsters.
In 2017, a Dalit student, Anitha, from Ariyalur died by suicide after she failed to crack NEET despite good scores in her Class 12 exam, prompting Tamil Nadu political parties to mount an offensive against the Centre and demand for cancelling the exam.
Durga’s death drew sharp responses from Tamil Nadu political parties opposed to NEET, as Chief Minister K. Palaniswami and his deputy O. Panneerselvam of the ruling AIADMK expressed shock over the incident.
DMK president M.K. Stalin said NEET “is not an exam at all.”
If you know someone – friend or family member – at risk of suicide, please reach out to them. The Suicide Prevention India Foundation maintains a list of telephone numbers they can call to speak in confidence. You could also accompany them to the nearest hospital.