Modi govt dreads Opposition stoking NEET protest wildfire

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NEET protests by medical students in Rohtak in Haryana

Image credit X @BitthuPankaj

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NEET protests gather steam while Modi govt goes for cover

By Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, June 23: Almost half the candidates for the NEET UG retest ordered by the Supreme Court vanished on Sunday. The National Testing Agency (NTA) said that only 52 per cent of the total 1563 candidates appeared in the retest on Sunday.

The Centre has ordered a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the alleged irregularities in the examinations for the undergraduate medical courses of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET).

The NTA on Sunday also debarred 15 candidates of the NEET UG from a Bihar centre who had appeared for the May 5 examination due to their alleged involvements in malpractices.

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The government has committed a committee to suggest a roadmap for the revamp of the NTA. The development has come amid intense protests by the students.

The NTA postponed the scheduled NEET PG and CSIR-UGC-NET examinations at the last moment. The government also sacked the NTA head Subodh Kumar Singh.

The government has kept Singh on a compulsory wait. He was replaced by Pradeep Singh Kharola.

Union Minister for Education Dharmendra Pradhan is learnt to be meeting media persons in batches on a daily basis to argue his case. Pradhan is also learnt to have met a group of reporters covering the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) beat on Sunday.

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Pradhan is learnt to be pleading with reporters to spotlight the government stand on the NEET controversy. The minister is essentially arguing that the government can take action only in cases where complaints have been made.

“For complaints against a few centres, examination as a whole cannot be cancelled. Please think of 24 lakh candidates while complaints came in the NEET U against centres where just 1563 students had appeared for the test,” the government is arguing in select media briefing.

However, some of the journalists have countered, saying that the issue at the centre stage is about paper leaks and rigging of the whole examination process conducted by the NTA.

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It has also been reliably learnt that a few of the journalists bluntly told the government representatives that the paper leaks have been normalised in the past few years while no action had been taken.

Sources said that Pradhan is on a sticky wicket. His daily interactions with select media persons have failed to douse anger of the students.

The CPI (MP) in a statement on Sunday sought resignation of Pradhan. The Congress also has said that the “buck stops at the top” in the backdrop of the alleged NEET irregularities.

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The Indian Medical Association (IMA) on Sunday came in support of the government. The IMA in a statement welcomed the CBI probe in the NEET UG examinations.

But Federation of All India Medical Association (FAIMA) slammed the government over the postponement of the NEET PG (Post Graduate) examination. The PTI quoted Manish Jagra of FAIMA, saying the “government is not able to conduct an examination even after one year’s preparations”.

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