Amid a growing chorus against conducting entrance exams NEET and JEE-Mains, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia wrote to Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal "Nishank" on Wednesday, urging him to postpone the tests in view of the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country.
Sisodia's letter came in the backdrop of Congress's interim president Sonia Gandhi holding a meeting with the chief ministers of seven states to discuss the matter on Wednesday.
"Our students are our future. They are being told that all arrangements are being made to ensure their safety from the coronavirus at the centres. These claims sound good, but we have thousands of examples where people have been infected, despite taking several precautions. Despite the risk, if we still go ahead, we will be risking the lives of over 28 lakh students," Sisodia wrote in the letter.
Earlier in the day, Sisodia, who is also Delhi's education minister, demanded that medical and engineering entrance exams NEET and JEE be postponed and the Centre work on alternative methods for selecting students.
"They (Centre) are saying protocols will be followed. Following the same protocols that the Centre wants 28 lakh students to follow, lakhs of Indians have tested positive for COVID-19," he told reporters.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader said Union Home Minister Amit Shah tested positive for the virus, despite staying in a very safe environment, and many other leaders, including the Delhi health minister, have also contracted the contagious disease.
"So many top leaders got infected with COVID-19, despite taking all precautions. How can we take the risk of sending 28 lakh students to the exam centres and be assured that they will not be infected?" he asked.
Sisodia said the Centre should immediately postpone the exams and work on "alternative methods" for admissions in medical and engineering colleges.
"I appeal to the government not to be adamant on admissions only through these exams. We are not at all saying that the year be declared as a zero-academic year. We are not in favour of admitting students just like that as we will need quality doctors and engineers, but banking only upon a three-hour exam and expecting it to work like a magic wand in identifying talent is a very conservative thought," he added.
The Joint Entrance Examination (Main) and the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET-UG) will be conducted in September as scheduled, Ministry of Education officials said on Tuesday, amid a growing chorus for postponing the crucial tests in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.