NEET-UG row: Congress to protest nationwide on Friday demanding justice | Politics News

NEET-UG row: Congress to protest nationwide on Friday demanding justice | Politics News

NEET-UG row: Congress to protest nationwide on Friday demanding justice | Politics News

New Delhi: Members of the All India Students Association (AISA) protest over the alleged irregularities in medical entrance exam NEET, at Shastri Bhawan, in New Delhi, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (Photo: PTI)

The Congress party is set to stage protests across all state headquarters on Friday, calling for justice for students in light of alleged irregularities in the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test-Undergraduate (NEET-UG) 2024 exam.

A letter was sent to all state unit chiefs, Congress legislature party leaders, state in-charges, general secretaries, and other senior officials, emphasising the urgent need to address the students’ grievances. “As you are aware, the National Testing Agency (NTA) released the results of NEET-UG 2024 on 4th June 2024. The results have been marred by allegations of irregularities and paper leaks following the inflated marks of some aspirants,” Congress General Secretary K C Venugopal said.

This comes amid a wave of protests sweeping the country. On Wednesday, the youth wing of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) demonstrated outside the residence of Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

Led by AAP MLA Sanjeev Jha, the protestors demanded a thorough and swift investigation into the alleged irregularities under the supervision of a retired Supreme Court judge.

“Due to the alleged irregularities in the conduct of the exam, the students have been affected. We demand that the probe in the NEET exam matter be carried out in a time-bound manner and under the supervision of a retired Supreme Court judge,” Jha said, adding that the exam should be cancelled.

2024 NEET-UG exam row protests

This is the latest of several protests that have been organised across the country. Several student unions, including the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), Students’ Federation of India (SFI), All India Students’ Federation (AISF), and Bharat Rashtra Samithi Vidhyarthi (BRSV), held protests on Tuesday against alleged irregularities in the NEET exam, demanding its cancellation.

The NSUI, the student wing of the Indian National Congress, led a Students’ March in collaboration with other unions from Narayanaguda to the Ambedkar statue at Liberty, Hyderabad. Protestors carried placards reading ‘Students March to Solve NEET Issue’ and ‘NEET Exam Should Be Conducted Again’.

Simultaneously, the BRSV, the student wing of the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), staged a separate protest at Raj Bhavan. However, the police soon intervened and removed the student activists who were squatting in front of the Governor’s residence.

NSUI State President and Member of Legislative Council (MLC) Venkat Balmoor stated on social media platform X that the unions demanded the cancellation of the NEET exam and an inquiry by a sitting judge into the irregularities. They also sought an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

BRSV President Gellu Srinivas Yadav echoed these demands, urging the Union Ministers from Telangana, G Kishan Reddy and Bandi Sanjay Kumar, to address the issue. He also called on Chief Minister A Revanth Reddy to respond.

BRS Working President K T Rama Rao questioned the central government’s handling of the situation, particularly criticising the Education Minister’s stringent denial of the issue. “Why is the NDA government at the Centre so callous about such a sensitive and important matter that affects not only the lakhs of students who have appeared for the NEET exam but also their families?” Rao asked on X.

The AAP had also held a protest at Jantar Mantar yesterday, demanding a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the alleged irregularities.

What is the NEET-UG 2024 exam row?

The NEET-UG 2024 result, declared on June 4, sparked protests due to allegations of irregularities. The NEET exam, which was taken by more than 2.4 million students in India, was accused of a paper leak when 67 students achieved perfect scores of 720/720. Some students had also been awarded grace marks as compensation for allegedly losing time at exam centres.

Petitions have been filed in courts by students seeking a re-test. The Supreme Court has allowed a re-test for around 1,563 students who received grace marks.

Politicians’ reaction to the NEET-UG row

The issue has also triggered a political uproar with Opposition parties blaming the NDA-led government and demanding accountability from state leaders.

AIMIM President Asaduddin Owaisi criticised the NDA government over the alleged irregularities, demanding a Supreme Court-monitored re-examination. Speaking at a public meeting at Darussalam, Owaisi said, “The NEET exam has become a joke. Prime Minister Modi’s interaction with students ahead of the board exams is overshadowed by the government’s handling of NEET. Twenty-four lakh children appeared for the exam, yet the re-exam is only for 1,500. There should be a complete re-exam. The NTA, led by an RSS member from Madhya Pradesh, is nonsensical.”

Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi accused the government of trying to conceal its negligence. “The Supreme Court has taken notice, and so have the people of the country. The Congress Party and the INDIA alliance will not allow the future of 24 lakh children to be ruined,” Gogoi stated.

Congress leader Pawan Khera said, “We are waiting to see when the government will acknowledge the injustice done to 24 lakh children and the impact on India’s health services.”

On June 14,  the newly reappointed Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan assured students that their concerns would be addressed fairly. “The central government is committed to protecting the interests of NEET examinees. I want to assure the students that all their concerns will be addressed with fairness and equity. No student will be at a disadvantage and no child’s career will be in jeopardy,” Pradhan stated on his X (formerly Twitter) account. He added that the NEET counselling process would soon be underway.

Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Vijay Sinha commented on the issue, stating, “I am collecting information. Those apprehended at the guest house are linked to an individual named Pritam, who is allegedly connected to former Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav. We are reviewing this matter thoroughly and will take action against those found guilty. This is a significant issue, and we will conduct a high-level probe to uncover the details.”

Supreme Court response to NEET-UG row

On Tuesday, The Supreme Court issued a strong reprimand to the National Testing Agency (NTA), which conducts the NEET exam, emphasising that even the smallest irregularity must be addressed. “If there’s even 0.001 per cent negligence on anyone’s part, it should be thoroughly dealt with,” the court stated during a hearing on the alleged irregularities. “As an agency conducting the examination, you must act fair. If there is a mistake, acknowledge it and take corrective action. At least that inspires confidence in your performance,” the bench added.

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Jun 19 2024 | 4:47 PM IST

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