The entrance exam was effectively used as a bargaining chip in the politics of the state.

NEET controversy and Anithas death A timeline of how the Centre and State failed studentsPolice detain Makkal Atikaram members who were protesting in Madurai following Anitha's death, on Saturday; PTI Photo
news NEET Saturday, September 02, 2017 - 15:41

On September 1, Anitha, a Dalit girl in Tamil Nadu's Ariyalur, took the extreme step of ending her life. She was just 17.

The daughter of a Dalit daily wage labourer at the Gandhi Market in Tiruchi who worked hard to pay for her education, Anitha's father had envisioned a bright future for her. After all, she had overcome many hardships to score a commendable 1176 marks out of 1200 in her 12th board exams.

Read: Not getting medical seat is not end of all options: TN govt’s appeal to students

Anitha wanted to be a doctor and those marks could have easily fetched her a medical seat in the state. However, her NEET scores did not make the cut: She scored only 86 out of 700 in the newly introduced entrance examination, because the state board hadn’t prepared her for the exam. The Tamil Nadu syllabus was outdated, putting the students at a massive disadvantage compared to their peers.

Anitha had in fact taken the fight to the Supreme Court too, demanding that TN be exempted from NEET. While the Supreme Court had refused to get rid of NEET, the state government then approached the Centre, demanding an exemption of at least one year for the state.

Read: "I don’t have the means or opportunities for coaching classes": Anitha’s lament on NEET

The issue then became a bargaining chip, according to those who closely follow the political situation in the state. Amidst rumours that the BJP might be interfering in the AIADMK’s internal matters, and that the AIADMK might join the NDA, Union Minister Nirmala Seetharaman had made an announcement that the Centre would in fact consider an exemption to the state, once an ordinance is brought in.

Read: Is death the price of a dream? Distraught father, brother mourn Anitha’s demise

But when the ordinance was brought in by TN, the Centre rejected it, once again shattering the dreams of the students.

Here's a brief timeline of the NEET controversy, and the many flip flops in the case.

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