Even as lakhs of students sit for the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) across the country on Sunday, students who have been assigned centres out of their home states have faced one hardship after another. With the Supreme Court staying the petition that allows for the setting up of additional centres in Tamil Nadu, students have been forced to take buses and trains at the eleventh hour in order to make it to examination centres in states like Kerala, Karnataka and Rajasthan.
Adding to all this confusion is major remodelling work underway at the Arakkonam railway station, which has thrown several long distance trains many hours behind schedule. The Arakkonam route is an important entry point for trains in and out of the city.
For 19-year-old Akhila Shaji, a native of Perinthalmanna in Kerala's Malappuram district, a delay of 20 minutes cost her the opportunity to appear for the exam, for which she had been preparing for since months.
Akhila boarded the Chennai Mail on Saturday and according to schedule, the train was to reach Chennai by 5: 30 am on Sunday. Having appeared for NEET last year, this was her second chance at trying to clear the entrance exam.
However, an unexpected delay of the train by several hours led to Akhila losing out the chance of appearing for the exam. Speaking to TNM over phone from outside DAV Public School in Gopalapuram in Chennai, Akhila said: "The train reached here at 9:45 am only. My exam centre is very close by, just took us 5 minutes to reach here from the station. But by then it was 9:50 am and we had to enter the hall by 9:30 am. I managed to go past the main gate of the centre. But once I was inside the compound, the school staff came up to me and said that I was not supposed to be there at that time. They said that I cannot appear for the exam, since I had turned up late. They told us to meet the Principal, but we are still waiting."
Akhila had given Chennai as the first option while applying for the exam.
Two minutes late
Three students from Karnataka scurried from Gulbarga, Hasan and Bidar to Bengaluru on Saturday night for the exam that would decide their future. However, a train delay caused them to be a mere two minutes late to the exam centre.
The Army Public School in Kamaraj Nagar was to conduct the exams in batches:7: 30 am, 8: 30 am and 9: 30 am. The students arrived at 9: 32 am and saw that the gates to the school had been closed. With hopes of becoming a doctor one day and desperate to write the exam, the students jumped over the gates of the school in a last minute effort to plead with the authorities. The security personnel, however, removed them from the venue. The dejected students were told to take the exam the following year.