The death of an aspiring medical student from Tamil Nadu’s Ariyalur district on Wednesday took a controversial turn after the boy’s father claimed that it was a case of suicide.
The man, Vishwanathan, said his son, Vignesh (19), took the extreme step over fear and anxiety about the forthcoming National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET). No suicide note has been found so far.
Latching on to the incident, political parties in the state reiterated their demand for scrapping the test.
Even as inquiries into the possibility of a suicide are underway, Vignesh’s father said his son had failed to clear the test in two earlier attempts and was anxious over his score this time round. The 19-year-old boy’s body was found floating in a well four days ahead of the exam.
“Yesterday, we took him out to buy new clothes. Around 5.30pm, we took him to the temple. We returned and then he studied till 9pm and went to sleep. Usually, he used to wake up at 4am and start studying. This was his routine. When I woke up at 4.30am, I did not find him anywhere. At 9am, we found his chappals near a well and that is how we found out. It is only because of stress due to NEET that he decided to end his life,” Vishwanathan told News18.
The body was sent to a government hospital for autopsy, an office said. Vignesh had secured a seat in agricultural sciences last year, but he had decided to study harder to crack NEET.
Soon after the incident spread in the locality, villagers staged a demonstration demanding immediate scrapping of the examination.
DMK president MK Stalin, expressing grief over the NEET aspirant's suicide, said one more life has been lost over the national test. "When the merciless Central government would stop the NEET. How many more lives should we lose?" he asked and appealed to the student community to face life boldly and give up suicidal tendencies.
Tamil Nadu parties, including the ruling AIDMK,has been opposed to NEET on grounds that it went against social justice, the backward classes and interests of rural students who could not afford coaching classes.
PMK founder leader S Ramadoss, expressing shock, said Vignesh was studious and his NEET score last year was 370. Though the youth got admission in a private medical college, his family, belonging to the Most Backward Classes, could not afford it, he said, adding hence, the boy was preparing to sit for the test this year too.
"The Central government has been saying that NEET is to upgrade the standard of medical education and prevent commercialisation of medical education. If it is true that the quality of medical education has been rising, many who scored much less than Vignesh in NEET must not have been allowed to join private medical colleges by pumping in loads of money," Ramadoss said in a statement. Had admission been given based on Class 12 marks, the boy would have for sure got a placement in a medical college, he said. "..the opportunity to join medical college must not have been denied to Vignesh just because he did not have money to join a medical college though he cleared the NEET," Ramadoss said.
The PMK top leader, an ally of the ruling AIADMK-led alliance in which the BJP is also a constituent, said NEET was being held only for private coaching institutions to indulge in profiteering. "If this situation continues, there is a threat of many students resorting to suicide every year due to fear and frustration over the NEET. To prevent this, the Centre should come forward to permanently scrap the NEET. Also, the Tamil Nadu government must provide a solatium of Rs 50 lakh to Vignesh's family and a government job to one of his family members, the PMK leader said.
Several students across the country have been seeking postponement of the examination as they feel they have not been able to prepare well in view of the pandemic and unavailability of coaching classes in the run up to the test.
Ariyalur has been the epicentre of anti-NEET protests in Tamil Nadu for a while now. It was from this agriculture-dominant district that Anitha, another MBBS aspirant, had hailed ended her life in 2017.
Anitha had secured high marks in her 12th grade but the medical entrance test had derailed her dreams of pursuing medical studies. She had moved the Supreme Court in August 2017 but to no avail, following which she took the extreme step.
(With inouts from PTI)