NEET row: Rahul Gandhi writes to PM seeking a debate in Lok Sabha; students protest against government

Over a dozen students were detained while attempting to march towards Parliament to protest against the alleged irregularities.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jul 02, 2024 | 6:00 PM Updated Jul 02, 2024 | 7:51 PM

Rahul Gandhi on NEET exam row

Leader of the Opposition Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday, 2 July, wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting his government to facilitate a debate on the medical entrance exam NEET issue in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

He said the Opposition’s request to discuss NEET was denied in both Houses of Parliament on June 28 as well as on Monday, and added that the Lok Sabha speaker had assured the opposition that he would discuss the matter with the government.

Student outfits of INDIA bloc parties slammed the BJP-led Centre on Tuesday over alleged irregularities in the NEET-UG and reiterated their demand that the medical entrance test be held again for all the 24 lakh candidates who had appeared in it.

Meanwhile, over a dozen students were detained while attempting to march towards the Parliament to protest against alleged irregularities in several competitive exams.

The students belonging to different outfits under the banner “India against NTA” gathered at the Patel Chowk metro station in New Delhi and started raising “anti-NTA” slogans.

Also Read: Students call for march towards Parliament on 2 July to press their demands

Seeks debate

“I am writing to request for a debate in Parliament on NEET,” Gandhi said in his letter to the prime minister on Tuesday.

“Our aim is to engage constructively to find a way forward. At this moment, our only concern is the welfare of nearly 24 lakh NEET aspirants across India,” he said.

“The NEET examination deserves immediate attention because it has exposed the deep rot in our higher education system. The past seven years have seen over 70 paper leaks, affecting over 2 crore students,” the Congress leader added.

“Our students deserve answers. A parliamentary debate is the first step towards rebuilding and restoring their faith,” he said.

“Given the urgency of the matter, I request the government to facilitate a debate in the House tomorrow. I believe that it would be fitting if you were to lead this debate in the interest of the students,” Gandhi said.

Signs common resolution

At a press conference held at the Press Club in New Delhi, national leaders of the student outfits signed a common resolution against discrepancies in the examination conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA) and pressed their demand to scrap the testing agency for its failure in holding a fair examination.

Members of the Left-backed All India Students’ Association (AISA), Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and All India Students’ Federation (AISF), along with the Samajwadi Chhatra Sabha and the Congress’s student wing National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), where among those who addressed the press conference.

They alleged that the future of lakhs of students is jeopardised due to the NTA’s “inability to hold exams in a fair and transparent manner” and demanded that fresh dates of the NEET-UG be released immediately for all candidates.

They also demanded the resignation of Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan over reported incidents of paper leak and corruption in the exam.

The student bodies of the INDIA bloc parties plan to take out a joint march to Parliament on the last day of the 18th Lok Sabha on Wednesday, they said.

Also Read: DMK says TN first state to unmask ‘fraudulent’ NEET

‘Glaring example of the NTA’s inability’

“The recent NEET scam is a glaring example of the NTA’s inability to conduct fair and transparent examinations. We, as representatives of students across the nation, demand an immediate ban on the NTA and the establishment of a new, trustworthy body to conduct these crucial exams.

“Our united stance is to safeguard the interests of our students and we will not rest until justice is served and the examination system reformed to ensure fairness and transparency,” NSUI president Varun Choudhary said.

“After several protests and a week-long sit-in by the AISA under the banner of INDIA against the NTA, all the major student organisations of the country have come together to call for an all-India protest on 3 July. In this sequence, students have called for a Parliament siege at Jantar Mantar,” Prasanjeet Kumar, general secretary, AISA, said.

AISF president Viraaj Devang, Samajwadi Chhattra Sabha president Imran, SFI general secretary Mayukh Biswas and CRJD leader Akshan Ranjan also addressed the press conference.

Seeks removal of Union education minister

Carrying posters and banners with slogans like “Sack Union Education Minister” and “NTA must go” written over them, the students staged demonstrations against the reported incidents of paper leaks and corruption in the medical entrance exam, among others.

The Delhi Police detained the protesting students while they tried to march towards the Parliament to press their demands.

“After holding a presser at the Press Club, the students gathered at the Patel Chowk metro station from where they started marching towards the Parliament. Over a dozen students were detained while attempting to do so,” said a police officer.

Various student outfits under the banner “India against NTA” have been staging an indefinite sit-in at the Jantar Mantar here against alleged rigging in the NTA-held examinations —NEET UG, PG and UGC NET.

Their protest entered its seventh day on Tuesday with a call to take out a march to the Parliament to forward the agitation.

The members of Left-backed All India Students Association (AISA) and Delhi University’s Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS) are among those sitting on the protest.

The students have called for another march for “Sansad Gherao” on Wednesday along with the student outfits of INDIA block parties on the last day of the first session of the 18th Lok Sabha.

Their demands include scrapping of NTA, Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan’s resignation and decentralisation of entrance examinations.

The NTA on Monday released the results of 1,563 candidates who appeared in a re-test to compensate for the loss of time as the exam started late at six centres on 5 May.

None of the five candidates who scored a perfect 720 in the 5 May exam could match their results in the re-test. The number of candidates sharing the top rank in the medical entrance test was reduced to 61 from 67 in the revised results.

(With PTI inputs)

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