Business Standard

NEET-UG row: Cong protests, Pradhan orders action against NTA. Key updates

The Congress is planning a nation-wide protest demanding justice for students, a day after Rahul Gandhi mocked PM Modi for 'being able to stop Ukraine war' but failing to stop paper leaks

Protest, NEET Protest

Lucknow: Police personnel detain Samajwadi Party members during a protest against the Central Government over the cancellation of UGC-NET 2024 exam, in Lucknow, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (Photo: PTI)

Abhijeet Kumar New Delhi
The Congress party is planning protests in all state capitals on Friday, demanding justice for students amid allegations of irregularities in the 2024 National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test-Undergraduate (NEET-UG) exam.

On Thursday, a letter was dispatched to state unit chiefs, and other post holders in the Congress party, indicating the urgent need to address student grievances. Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal stated, “The National Testing Agency (NTA) released the NEET-UG 2024 results on June 4th, which have been clouded by accusations of irregularities and paper leaks due to inflated marks of some candidates.”

The controversy over alleged malpractices in the NEET exam intensified on Thursday as several student groups protested, and opposition parties criticised the Centre, even as the government maintained that “isolated” incidents should not affect the many students who legitimately passed the exam.

The cancellation of UGC-NET, amidst the ongoing NEET controversy, has raised questions about the NTA’s ability to conduct large-scale exams.

Education Minister promises action against NTA

Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan announced that strict action would be taken against those found guilty, including high-ranking NTA officials. At a press conference, he revealed that the government will form a high-level panel to review the NTA’s operations. Although there were indications that Pradhan might announce the cancellation of the NEET exam and action against NTA Director General Subodh Kumar Singh, he did not confirm either.

Pradhan asserted, “Whether it’s the NTA or any senior official, strict action will be taken against anyone found guilty in the NEET case. No malpractice will be tolerated, and the government is committed to holding error-free exams.” He added that the cancellation of UGC-NET was due to confirmed paper leaks on the darknet, which circulated on Telegram.

When asked if NEET would also be cancelled, Pradhan did not provide a definitive answer. He emphasised the unfairness of jeopardising the careers of students who legitimately passed due to isolated incidents of malpractice. The Ministry is awaiting a report from Bihar police before deciding the next steps.

Meanwhile, disgruntled NEET students have taken to various platforms to voice their support for scrapping the 2024 NEET exam owing to the ‘unfairness’ meted out to them.

Several students from different universities and various student groups were detained on Thursday during protests against the cancellation of UGC-NET and NEET irregularities outside the Ministry of Education and at Pradhan’s residence in central Delhi.

Rahul Gandhi attacks PM Modi over NEET-UG and UGC-NET row

Earlier on Thursday evening, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi held a press conference criticising the government for the alleged irregularities in NEET and the cancellation of UGC-NET. He accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of failing to manage the situation, attributing paper leaks to the control of educational institutions by the BJP and RSS.

“It was 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,” Gandhi stated.

Gandhi claimed that during his Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, many complained about paper leaks, comparing the situation to the Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh. He insisted that rules should be applied consistently across exams.

“There has been an expansion of the idea of Vyapam to the rest of the country,” he said while likening the recent controversy to the 2013 Madhya Pradesh Vyapam examination and recruitment scam.

Bihar Deputy CM alleges RJD involvement in paper leak

Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Vijay Kumar Sinha has alleged that the main accused in the NEET ‘paper leak’ in Bihar has connections with officials associated with Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav, calling for an investigation.

Opposition pressures Centre

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan urged the Centre to address the crisis within the NTA, citing repeated failures in conducting exams like NEET and UGC-NET. Trinamool Congress MP Saket Gokhale criticised the NTA, accusing it of complicity and damaging students’ lives, while RJD MP Manoj Jha demanded the cancellation of the NEET exam due to ample evidence of compromise.

What is the NEET-UG controversy?

The NEET exam, held on May 5 across 4,750 centres with approximately 24 lakh candidates, saw its results announced on June 4 instead of the expected June 14, allegedly due to expedited answer sheet evaluations.

Unprecedentedly, 67 students scored a perfect 720, including six from a single centre in Haryana’s Faridabad, raising suspicions. Allegations have surfaced that grace marks also contributed to the unusually high scores.

NEET-UG, conducted by the NTA, is essential for admissions to MBBS, BDS, AYUSH, and related courses in India’s government and private institutions.

[With inputs from agencies]

Don't miss the most important news and views of the day. Get them on our Telegram channel

First Published: Jun 21 2024 | 9:52 AM IST

Explore News