Unease in NDA over NEET

| | Patna/New Delhi
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Unease in NDA over NEET

Monday, 17 June 2024 | Pioneer News Service | Patna/New Delhi

In what could be the first sign of “political” uneasiness in the just formed Narendra Modi-led NDA Government, its partner JD(U)’s Nitish Kumar-led Bihar Government has come down cracking by registering an FIR in the infamous NEET entrance paper leak though the Centre has been defending from day one and termed all the controversy an allegation a conspiracy by the Opposition to malign the Centre.

A regular massive protests from the across the country, including Bihar which sees a large number of aspirants, is being reported on a daily basis ever since the expose giving the Opposition-led by the Congress an opportunity to attacking the Dharmendra Pradhan-led Education Ministry.

After the things were getting murkier, Pradhan addressed the NEET controversy once again on Sunday reiterating the Government’s commitment to accountability and fairness. He emphasised that strict actions will be taken against any officials found guilty of malpractice.

“On the recommendations of the Supreme Court, a re-test has been ordered for 1,563 candidates. Irregularities have been found in two places. The Government is taking this issue seriously. If any high-ranking officials of the NTA are found guilty, they will face strict consequences. Significant improvements are needed in the NTA. We are committed to ensuring that no wrongdoer escapes punishment,” Pradhan said.

The Centre and the NTA have told the Supreme Court they had cancelled the grace marks given to 1,563 candidates who took the examination for admission to MBBS and other such courses. They will have the option to either take a re-test or forgo the compensatory marks awarded to them for loss of time, the Centre has said.

The Economic Offences Unit (EOU) of Bihar, which is probing allegations that the paper of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) was leaked ahead of the exams held on May 5, has said they found evidence that suggests that some students knew the questions before they appeared for the examination. EOU said 13 people, including four students, have been arrested for their suspected involvement in the alleged leak and some have also been accused of receiving the question papers ahead of the test.

According to Additional Director General of Police, EOU, NH Khan, during the probe they had asked a set of questions to the National Testing Agency (NTA), which organises the NEET exam, and while they might have some follow-ups to their questions, their investigation is “very much suggestive of a paper leak.” EOU Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Manavjeet Singh Dhillon said they recovered a list of the 13 people from a “safe house” located on the outskirts of Patna.

Sources said around 30 medical aspirants had reportedly been summoned by people they described as the “exam mafia” to receive questions and answers ahead of the exam. Dhillon claimed that four arrested candidates had “confessed” during interrogation that the questions were identical to those they had received at the “safe house” on May 4.

The NEET exam was held on May 5 in 4,750 centres across India and around 2,400,000 candidates took it. The results were expected to be declared on June 14 but were announced 10 days earlier since the evaluation of the answer sheets was completed earlier. The results sparked outrage and protests amid alleged irregularities after as many as 67 students scored a perfect 720.

Since then students across India are demanding a re-examination.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin said on Sunday said NEET, ‘masquerading’ as a measure of merit, is a ‘scam’ and the Centre must stop defending the national test as it went against the interests of students and it is also against social justice and poor.

Congress on Sunday said there are “serious questions” on the integrity of NTA and the manner in which NEET is designed and administered. The opposition party hoped that when the new Standing Committees of Parliament gets constituted, it would take up an in-depth review of the NEET, NTA and NCERT. Congress has also questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “silence” on the matter and asserted that only a Supreme Court-monitored forensic probe could safeguard the future of lakhs of young students.

Delhi Health Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj too raised concern over “irregularities” in the NEET-UG examination and appealed to the public to come in support of the students demanding re-examination.

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