Days after the Supreme Court turned down the petition by Tamil Nadu government that sought a year’s exemption from the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to medical courses, S Anitha who was a petitioner in the case, committed suicide at her home in Kulumur village in Tamil Nadu’s Ariyalur district on Friday. 17-year-old Anitha had scored 98% marks in Class 12. According to the state education department’s evaluation, her score in engineering and in medicine were 199.75 and 196.75 out of 200, respectively. As per the report by the Indian Express, these scores would have assured her a seat in either stream without NEET. However, her score in NEET ensured she could not.
Anitha in an interview revealed that due to an unfamiliar national syllabus of NEET, she had felt helpless while appearing for the test. She scored only 86 out of 700. S S Sivasankar, the local DMK MLA, said that Anitha’s eldest brother Mani Ratnam brought her to a protest organised at Ariyalur, reported the Indian Express. He said that he was surprised to come across anyone from such a deprived background with such high scores. Later, more students approached him and he took them to Chennai to meet party leaders. He also recalled how Anitha agreed to go to Delhi only because she hoped that her Plus 2 marks she had got would be recognised and would help her in becoming a doctor. While, Fr. K Robert, who taught Anitha English in the village school, was quoted as saying, “I strongly believe that the false promises made by Central and state governments left her depressed.”
Arun Kumar, the youngest of Anitha’s brothers was quoted as saying, “Ratnam (eldest brother) chose to stay home for a few days since we knew Paappu was very upset because the Central government hadn’t supported our demand.”
As people poured in to pay their last respects to Anitha, her father Shanmugham talked through his tears and said, “She would say, ‘Appa (father), I want to become a doctor and build a hospital’. We would all laugh, but she would go on… say the hospital would be free of cost for all patients. She dreamt so much….” Shanmugham remembered his daughter as someone who lived for her dreams, while they themselves lived only for her.