Meet Anitha S, the Dalit girl who took NEET to court

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A Dalit girl from Tami Nadu committed suicide in 2017 over NEET examinations, and  is hailed as a martyr after she became one of the first students to speak out against the medical entrance test.

Story: Nitya Kaimal

In 2017, a girl from Tamil Nadu, filed a case against NEET when the central government declared that the state could not be exempted from the examination to gain admission in medical colleges. She killed herself when she found she had no hopes of gaining a medical seat despite having marks in 12th grade that would have granted her a seat if the exemption was not overturned.

Anitha was a Dalit girl who obtained exemplary marks in her 12th-grade examinations, scoring 1176 out of 1200 and 196.75 out of 200 in the medical seat, but could not crack the very recently introduced NEET and was denied admission. Coming from a very low-income household, she was unable to afford the extra resources required to comprehend and study for the entrance test.

Also read: Sexual Assault against Dalit minor

To guarantee the continuation of medical admissions in the state based on Class XII results rather than through an entrance exam, as intended by NEET, the Tamil Nadu Assembly unanimously passed two resolutions earlier that year. The Center later concluded that this exemption could not be granted as it was “bad in law,” even though it first supported the Tamil Nadu government.

Displeased with the unfairness of the system and the argument that it was the rural and less privileged students that would suffer the most, she took the case to court.  The Supreme Court ruled that no student may be admitted to the program unless they were selected through NEET. She committed suicide shortly after the Supreme Court declared its judgement.

Also read: Dalit woman from Rajasthan’s Bharatpur set to be one of the youngest MPs in Lok Sabha.

In light of the recent controversy surrounding the NEET examinations, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Mk Stalin, took to X  to voice his ire. “From martyr Anitha to the countless students who have tragically taken their own lives, we have witnessed enough. NEET, an examination masquerading as a measure of merit, has repeatedly revealed itself as a pervasive scam affecting all levels of society. The union government must stop defending this anti-student, anti-social justice, and anti-poor NEET system,” he wrote in his post.

After news of Anitha’s suicide broke out, people took to the streets to mourn and protest. Women from the pro-Tamil organization Naam Tamizhar Katchi organized a “wailing protest” at Palayamkottai in the Tirunelveli district. Students and youth groups mobilised in Coimbatore, Salem, and Rameswaram, demanding justice for the girl. Political parties and other groups opposed the NEET, claiming it would have an impact on rural students. In Chennai, some students attempted to demonstrate on Greenways Road close to the residence of Chief Minister K Palaniswami but were arrested by the police. Additionally, there were screams directed towards attorney Nalini, who had defended pro-NEET students in court and is the wife of prominent Congressman P Chidambaram. Following Anitha’s suicide, the state government extended a job offer to her family along with  Rs 7 lakh as a form of retribution.

*दलित टाइम्स उन करोड़ो लोगो की आवाज़ है जिन्हें हाशिए पर रखा गया है। *

महिला, दलित और आदिवासियों के मुद्दों पर केंद्रित पत्रकारिता करने और मुख्यधारा की मीडिया में इनका प्रतिनिधित्व करने के लिए हमें आर्थिक सहयोग करें।


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