Congress’s nation-wide protest against NEET-UG and its four demands

Education Minister skipped the Delhi University's Yoga Day event where some students held a protest against NEET-UG irregularities.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jun 21, 2024 | 8:41 PM Updated Jun 21, 2024 | 8:41 PM

Congress, student bodies launch nation-wide protest against NEET

Amid raging row over the UGC-NET and NEET-UG controversies and protests in several parts of India over the last few days, the Opposition Congress held a nation-wide protest on Friday, 21 June over the alleged irregularities in NEET – including alleged paper leak – demanding a SC-monitored probe into the issue.

Congress workers protesting in several states were detained by the police. Several student unions including including Students’ Federation of India (SFI), All India Students Association (AISA) and Democratic Students’ Front continued their protest against both NEET and UGC-NET, leading to over 50 of them being detained.

On Wednesday, 19 June, Congress general secretary KC Venugopal had written to all state unit chiefs, legislature party leaders and state incharges among others about the urgent need to address the numerous complaints and concerns surrounding the NEET-UG 2024 conduct and results.

“The examination has been plagued by technical glitches, malpractice and unfair means in certain test centres. Organised corruption is evident from arrests made in Bihar, Gujarat and Haryana, revealing a pattern of malpractice in BJP-ruled states,” he had charged while stressing on the need for “massive protests” seeking justice for students.

Though Southern states have been protesting against NEET exam even before the recent controversy erupted, the protest saw active participation of people from north and north east India, even the BJP-ruled states like Madhya Pradesh.

Related: NEET paper leak in Bihar: Prime accused confesses to arranging question papers for 4 candidates for ₹40 lakh each

Unique protest in Hyderabad

In Hyderabad, Motha Rohit, President of the city’s Youth Congress led an “unique” protest march to Union Cabinet Minister Kishan Reddy and demnaded cancellation of the exam. Taking to ‘X’ to post about it, he said that contrary to Mahatma Gandhi’s principle of “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil,” PM Modi-led government is preaching “They Cannot see the injustice, hear about the injustice , and talk or respond to the injustice done to the 33 lakh students.”

In Bengaluru, Karnataka Youth Congress workers protested NEET in the presence of IYC national presdient Srinivas BC and state KYC President Mohammed Haris Nalapad. The workeers protested against PM Modi’s silence about alleged paper leak, and how can the PM stop a war but not paper leaks.

This was in reference to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s comment on 20 June attacking the PM. He had said, “It is being said Prime Minister Modi stopped the Ukraine-Russia War and Israel-Gaza war, but he is either not able to stop exam paper leaks or doesn’t want to.”

In Chennai, Congress leaders and workers protested NEET by chanting “Cancel the exam, launch an investigation.” They also asked the Central government not to take “revenge” on students or “kill” them and instead abolish the “crocodile” that is NEET. The protest sought justice for the students and the exam being abolished.

North, Northeast seek Pradhan’s resignation

In Madhya Pradesh, a state ruled by BJP, Congress workers led by Digvijaya Singh held a demonstration in Bhopal over the alleged irregularities in the NEET-UG 2024 examinations.

“This protest is regarding NEET exam. Two exams: NEET-UG and UGC NET. NTA chief Pradeep Kumar Joshi cancelled UGC-NET but he lied at every step in case of NEET where future of lakhs of students is in danger,” the MP said.

Claiming that the issue is because there is rampant corruption under BJP’s rule, Congress workers raised slogans against the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre and demanded the arrest of those involved in the alleged irregularities in the NEET-UG 2024 examinations.

Jharkhand Congress took out a protest march from Ranchi’s Shaheed Chowk to Raj Bhawan, carrying placards adorned with slogans against the National Testing Agency (NTA) and the resignation of Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. Cabinet Ministers Banna Gupta and Badal along with MLAs Pradeep Yadav and JP Bhai Patel were also present in the march.

In Nagaland , Congress leaders and workers converged outside the Congress Bhavan in Kohima with placards and banners demanding that the Centre take action against the NTA and those responsible for the irregularities in NEET-UG.

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Dharmendra Pradhan misses Yoga day at DU

Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Friday skipped the Delhi University’s Yoga Day event where some students held a protest against alleged irregularities in NEET-UG and UGC-NET exams.

Carrying black flags, members of Left-wing outfit All India Students’ Association (AISA) along with other students of the university held their demonstration at the institution’s North Campus. The AISA unit of the Delhi University claimed that the minister did not attend the event at the North Campus because of the protest.

“In response to the sheer audacity of Pradhan to even think of coming to DU while he and his NTA have jeopardised the future of students, AISA activists along with students of Delhi University raised black flags and protested against his presence in the university,” the association said in a statement.

During the protest, “students were informed that due to the fear of protest, the minister of education did not even show up for the event”, the AISA said and added that “the corrupt and arrogant education minister is not welcome in our university”. The students’ body also demanded Pradhan’s resignation and scrapping the NTA.

Several other states including Tripura, West Bengal, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh witnessed massive protests leading to a large number of Congress workers being detained.

Related: NEET to NET-UG row: As Opposition calls it ‘repeated incompetence of Modi government’, students lose faith

Recent developments

Terming the leak of the UGC-NET exam’s question paper an “institutional failure” of the National Testing Agency (NTA) on 20 June, Dharmedra Pradhan had said the government will constitute a high-level panel to look into the functioning of the agency.

At a press conference, Pradhan also appealed to the opposition parties not to politicise the issue and said strict action would be taken against those found guilty, including “top” officials of the NTA. However, he evaded repetitive queries on whether NEET will also be cancelled on lines of NET.

Meanwhile, on 21 June, the Supreme Court refused to defer the counselling for the controversy-ridden NEET-UG 2024 examination scheduled to kick off on 6 July, saying it is not an “open and shut” process.

The apex court issued notices to the National Testing Agency (NTA), the Centre and others on a petition seeking cancellation of the exam over alleged irregularities in holding it on 5 May.

(Edited by Neena)

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