MK Stalin, Amit Shah, BJP padayatra
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin in a file photo

NEET-related suicides: Stalin appeals to students to face life with self-confidence

NEET, a hurdle for growth, will be scrapped, says the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister.

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After a medical student aspirant from Chennai allegedly committed suicide, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin on Monday (August 14) made a passionate appeal to National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) aspirants not to ever make a decision to take their lives under any circumstances. He asked them not to harbour any suicidal tendencies but to face life with self-confidence.

The medical student aspirant, Jagadeeswaran had failed to secure the necessary marks in the NEET exam after two attempts and was known to have suffered bouts of depression. Having graduated from Class XII in 2022 with 427 marks, he had failed to clear the NEET entrance. On Saturday, (August 12) he did not respond to calls from his father and was found dead at home. His father, Selvasekar, unable to cope with the grief of his son's death, Selvasekar hanged himself at his home, the police said.

Condoling the deaths, Stalin said, "I offer my deepest condolences on the demise of student Jagatheeswaran and his father Selvasekhar (who also allegedly died by suicide). Let their deaths be the last on the altar of NEET."

Stalin however went on to claim that in a few months, when the "political change" takes place, the NEET barriers will come crashing down.

"Then, all those who say 'I will not sign' will disappear,” the Chief Minister said apparently taking a dig at Tamil Nadu governor RN Ravi for his remarks against the state's anti-NEET bill.

Expressing shock over the recent demise of the medical aspirant Jagatheeswaran, a student from Chromepet in the city who unsuccessfully attempted to clear the entrance test, the CM said he was at a loss to console the family.

Also read: NEET aspirant dies by suicide in Tamil Nadu

"Jagatheeswaran's father Selvasekhar also committed suicide the next day. I am at a loss on how to console his family and friends," the Chief Minister said.

His parents wanted to see their son, who studied well, as a medical doctor. But Jagadeeswaran "has joined the list of victims on the altar of NEET exam, which is the most gruesome incident," he said. A spate of alleged NEET-related suicides have been reported in the state in the past few years.

NEET will be scrapped

"I appeal that no student should ever make a decision to take away their own lives under any circumstances. The NEET, which is a hurdle for your growth, will be scrapped. The state government is actively working on the legal initiative in this direction," Stalin said in the statement.

Recalling the Assembly resolutions demanding NEET exemption for TN, he said the governor returned the first resolution and sent the second one to the President for assent.

"It appears that governor Ravi wants the bill to be shelved. NEET exam has become expensive and can be afforded only by the rich," stressed the CM.

Also read: Anti-NEET Bill or no Bill, entrance exam here to stay: TN Governor Ravi

Those who cannot afford to study by spending huge sums of money failed in the test, he claimed and said a situation has arisen wherein those who qualify NEET alone can join a medical college if they have money and that medical education is only for those who have money. "In spite of this, the state government brought 7.5 percent reservation for the poor students of government schools in medical colleges. But, the governor refuses to understand. There is a doubt that he is acting like a puppet of the coaching centers," Stalin alleged.

Accusing Ravi of "conducting classes" at the Raj Bhavan by inviting students, the Chief Minister claimed the governor "displayed his ignorance" when he had remarked that he would not sign the NEET exemption bill, an issue raised by a student’s father from Salem during an interaction on Saturday.

Also watch: Sloganeering against NEET in TN, prominent figures call it 'ManuNEETI', 'kill-loot' test

"The bill does not await his signature. It rests with the President. Governor has no authority as far as this is concerned, though he is giving the impression that he wields authority. No matter how many lives are lost like that of Jagadeeswaran, the heart of governor R N Ravi will not melt. Human life has no value in the times of such stone-hearted people," Stalin said offering his deepest condolences to bereaved family of Jagatheeswaran and his father Selvasekhar.

"Let their death be the final one on the altar of NEET. A bright future awaits you students. Be self-confident. Live and let others live. I urge you once again don’t harbour any suicidal tendencies," the chief minister said.

While Jagatheeswaran, 19, allegedly died by hanging on Saturday, his father took to the extreme step late on Sunday, unable to bear the loss, police said. He also died by hanging.

In 2021, the Tamil Nadu assembly passed a bill seeking exemption from NEET, on the grounds that it favours affluent students who can afford private coaching and students from poor families and rural areas are unable to clear the competitive exams despite scoring high marks in their Class XII exams.

NEET in Tamil Nadu

For nearly a decade prior to this, the state had abolished entrance tests for medical admissions and admitted students to MBBS programs based on their Class XII marks.

The current status is that the governor RN Ravi, who had returned the NEET exemption bill after a long delay, forwarded it to President Droupadi Murmu after the assembly passed it again.

Recently at an event where governor Ravi was felicitating NEET-qualified candidates, a parent of a successful candidate asked him about the NEET exemption. The parent said that he had spent several lakhs on his daughter's coaching and that not all parents could afford it. The governor responded by saying that the bill is with the President now and she would never sign it.

Meanwhile, state health minister Ma Subramanian criticised the governor for "misleading" the state with such statements when he has "no role in this except merely forwarding" it to the President.

(Suicides can be prevented. For help please call Suicide Prevention Helplines: Neha Suicide Prevention Centre – 044-24640050; Aasara helpline for suicide prevention, emotional support & trauma help — +91-9820466726; Kiran, Mental health rehabilitation — 1800-599-0019, Disha 0471- 2552056, Maithri 0484 2540530, and Sneha’s suicide prevention helpline 044-24640050.)

(With input from agencies)

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