Dressed in their maroon uniforms and carrying their school bags, around 50 students belonging to the Chennai Girls Higher Senior Secondary School protested against NEET at Nungambakkam in Chennai on Saturday. Raising slogans such as “Scrap NEET” and “We don’t want NEET”, the school girls began their protest at 12 noon near Valluvar Kottam in Nungambakkam and continued till 3pm.
The latest protest comes a day after the Supreme Court banned bandhs and protests against NEET that disrupt normal life in Tamil Nadu.
Demanding justice for Anitha, the Dalit student from Ariyalur who had killed herself after failing to secure a medical seat, the 50 students also demanded that Tamil Nadu be exempt from the NEET exam. One student who was part of the protest said, “Many people have been protesting but the Central government is not taking any action, that is why we also decided to come here and protest today. How many more people should die for NEET to be removed? Students like us won’t be able to get through NEET and become doctors.”
Visuals from the protest showed the Chennai police arguing with the student protesters to drop their demonstration and go back to school, but they refused and continued to protest. With traffic being disrupted along the busy Nungambakkam stretch, the Chennai police later shifted the students to their school premises.
Students also alleged that two or three students were beaten up by their headmistress, and were threatened that they would be expelled. However, the school later reportedly promised not to take any action against students for participating in the protests.
Tamil Nadu has been witnessing widespread protests against NEET across the state following the suicide of medical aspirant Anitha on September 1. Many including Anitha have argued that the all-India medical entrance examination by the CBSE puts rural students and those from economically weaker backgrounds at a disadvantage as they don’t have the resources to take coaching classes.
On Friday, the Supreme Court directed state officials to arrest anyone disrupts normal life and affects law and order in the state. The apex court, however, held that peaceful protests, criticism and dissent is “different than creation of a law and order situation”.