Mass protest across Tami Nadu against NEET
The suicide of Anitha, the 17-year-old from Ariyalur who challenged the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) in the Supreme Court, triggered widespread protests across the State on Saturday.
Various political parties and student organisations took out processions and organised protest meetings, condemning the Centre and the State government for failing to exempt Tamil Nadu from NEET.
A dozen students attempted to lay siege to Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami’s residence on Greenways Road, but were immediately whisked away by the police.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) cadre led by the party’s State secretary, G. Ramakrishnan, staged a blockade on Anna Salai on Saturday morning demanding justice for the bereaved family, and raised slogans against the Central and the State governments for allegedly driving the girl to commit suicide. They also burnt the effigy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Meanwhile, members of the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), along with those of the Revolutionary Youth and Students’ Federation (RYSF) and other student organisations affiliated to Left parties, also protested on Anna Salai. They were arrested after a scuffle with the police.
Naam Tamilar Katchi leader Seeman headed a demonstration near Valluvarkottam.
A handful of students staged a sit-in at the University of Madras. Chennai alone witnessed protests in as many as 22 places, and nearly 1,000 people were taken into custody.
Following intelligence inputs on the possibility of students and youth gathering on the Marina beach, the city police tightened security and restricted the movement of people in groups, so as to avert any recurrence of the Jallikattu agitations. “A few persons have been circulating posts calling on the agitators to reassemble on the beach to protest against NEET,” a police officer said.
In Tiruchi, a group of college studentsobserved a fast in front of the K.A.P. Viswanatham Government Medical College, demanding a probe into Anitha’s suicide and the withdrawal of NEET.
Another group of college students resorted to a road blockade on the Tiruchi–Chennai National Highway, triggering traffic snarls. Members of the Dravidar Viduthalai Kazhagam and the Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam also staged a demonstration in Tiruchi.
The southern districts also witnessed several protests by cadres of different organisations. Madurai city witnessed protests in at least five places, in which cadres of the VCK, the CPI (M), the Adi Tamilar Katchi and the Makkal Adhikaram took part.
Similar protests by these organisations were held in other southern districts, including Tirunelveli and Ramanathapuram. Police personnel were deployed to protect the offices of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Chennai and elsewhere in the State.
Meanwhile, functionaries of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam paid tribute to a decorated portrait of Anitha, kept at the party headquarters in Anna Arivalayam.
MGR Amma Deepa Peravai general secretary J. Deepa condemned the State and the Central governments, saying they were responsible for Anitha’s death.