TODAY -

Nothing neat about NEET
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: June 18, 2024 -



With so many new damning evidences coming to the fore each passing day, the controversy surrounding the conduct of National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (Undergraduate) (NEET-UG) 2024 has captured attention of the entire nation so much so that the media houses, which had remained riveted on analysing the election results of the 18th Lok Sabha even long after the formation of a new coalition government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the centre, has been forced to shift its focus.

In a new development, a 9-member Special Investigation Team of (SIT), which was constituted by the Economic Offences Unit (EOU) of Bihar Police to probe the NEET-UG 2024 question paper leak allegation, has revealed that of the 13 people arrested so far including six examination mafias, four students and three parents, two accused have confessed their role in the question paper leak, thus, leaving no room for anyone to doubt in the controversy.

What is even more shocking is this latest revelation about recovery of post-dated cheques suspected to have been issued in favour of an examination mafia who had demanded over Rs 30 lakh from each candidate seeking the leaked question paper ahead of the entrance test conducted on May 5 last.

All these have clearly shown that the controversy surrounding the conduct of NEET-UG 2024 is not some mere rumour, but a fact that need to be addressed immediately as it concerns the career of nearly 24 lakh students who aspire to pursue study in medical and related fields, including MBBS, BDS, BSc Nursing, AYUSH, and veterinary studies.

Unfortunately, National Testing Agency (NTA), which is the responsible for conducting the NEET-UG, as well as the Union Ministry of Education have been trying hard to dismiss any allegation of a NEET-UG paper leak.

While asserting that there is no evidence to support these claims of question paper leak, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan had even emphasised the credibility of NTA.

After a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India comprising justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah and Justice Vikram Nath acknowledged that the sanctity of NEET-UG 2024 had been affected and sought answers from the NTA while hearing a petition seeking cancellation of the NEET-2024, last Tuesday (June 11), Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan claimed there was "no concrete evidence of any kind of rigging, corruption or paper leak".

He had also hit out at the Opposition for "spreading confusion" and, in turn, "affecting the mental health of students".

However, in the light of the emerging new damning evidences, he seems to have mellowed down and changed the tune when he said, "No official, even those at the highest levels, will be spared if found guilty.

Significant improvements are necessary within the NTA, I assure you that no accused will be spared, and they will face the harshest punishment".

While admitting he has received information about irregularities at two examination centres of NEET-UG 2024, the Union Education Minister also assured students and their parents that the government had taken serious note of the matter.

The point we are trying to stress here is the tendency of the government to brush aside serious issues like the question paper leak and blaming the Opposition of "spreading confusion" by demanding a Supreme Court-monitored probe in the matter.

When not just the NTA but also the Union Education Minister have been trying hard all along to cover up the hard-to-miss allegations of irregularities, inflated scores, and paper leaks in the medical entrance exam, it would be nothing but wishful thinking to expect that the panel set up by the education ministry would do justice to the aggrieved students and their parents.

In such a distressing scenario, the Supreme Court of India may perhaps come up with a solution to this dilemma when it takes up another petition filed jointly by some students and directors of coaching centres for cancellation of the NEET-UG Exam 2024 for hearing on July 8.

Till then, lets us keep our fingers crossed.



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