Anitha's suicide & NEET: What the Tamil media is saying

Last Updated: Mon, Sep 04, 2017 17:06 hrs
TN: Protests against NEET after Anitha's suicide

(Image tweeted by@vikatan)

Last week, Anitha, the aspiring doctor whose petition against NEET was dismissed by the Supreme Court committed suicide. The death caused shockwaves across a state that has been grappling with the NEET issue for quite some time.

This led to people from all corners of the state in expressing their shock and solidarity in the wake of her death. Many students from across the state held protests seeking justice for her and a resolution to the ongoing NEET issue.

Local media reported on the aftermath of her death including the various protests across the state. Dinamalar; a Tamil national news daily reported on Anitha’s relatives refusing the money offered to them by the government.

“Following his death, Anita's family was paid Rs. Chief Minister Palanisamy announced that Rs 7 lakh would be financed and government jobs would be given to the family. Anita's family and relatives refused the check for Rs 7 lakh from district collector Lakshmipriya.”

The Hindu Tamil edition gathered the reactions to Anitha’s death of various political figures from across political parties in the state. It was clear that they were united in their unanimous blame towards the BJP led government regarding the NEET issue. There was also blame towards the state government for not doing enough in exempting Tamil Nadu from NEET.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E. Palanisamy announced financial aid of Rs.7 lakh would be offered to her family. OneIndia Tamil reported on protests by students in various parts of the state. The report stated that students from Kumbakonam Government Arts College, Kundavai Nachiyar Government Women's College, Trichy, Mayiladuthurai and Vriddhachalam colleges joined the protests.

Daily Thanthi covered the protests that took place following Anitha’s death. In Chennai, demonstrations were held on behalf of various political parties and student organizations, including the Communist Party of India, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the Maduguddin Sangam, Tamil Nadu Students Youth Federation, Dravida Swaraj Foundation and the Tamilnadu Youth Party and Students Union.

Thanthi TV spoke to Tamil Nadu Health Minister Vijaybaskar who called the death of Anita ‘shocking’ –

Vikatan reported on Tamil Nadu Livelihood Party leader Velmurugan who blamed the state and the central government for Anitha’s death. He said, “This is due to the BJP-led Modi government and AIADMK, the Indian Medical Council and the Supreme Court.” The report goes on to ask how the central government will be held responsible.

Vikatan also reported on how the English media covered this news; criticizing them for covering only the death and not the overall issue at hand –

“The Tamil media has given importance to the struggles in Tamil Nadu demanding the repeal of the selection process. Other English media do not usually see anything happening in Tamil Nadu. On the contrary, the English media only recorded Anita's death.”

The report goes on to criticize the Prime Minister for his silence on the NEET issue in general and the death of Anitha in particular –

“When OPS-EPS was partitioned, Modi did not write a word on Twitter, also he did not write a word on Twitter for the death of Anita. He will not be able to see what he does not like.”

Another report quoted two senior journalists; Kavitha Muralidaran and Sonia Arunnkumar commenting on Anitha’s death. Kavitha Muralidaran said in part, “For me Anitha died as a fighter. Her death was a challenge to social justice. Those who say that she may have written two more times and could have been more confident must say that these governments should not impose such big injustice on her and other students. Her death is the biggest disgrace for us as a community.”

Sonia Arunnkumar, a journalist with News 7 Tamil echoed the sentiments of Kavitha saying in part, “Education of the oppressed and rural poor is the result of a long struggle against the system. Education in the primary instrument that breaks the chains imposed on women. If Anitha had become a physician, how proud it would be for other women.”

The Hindu Tamil edition reported on a letter sent to Prime Minister Modi by Tamil Nadu Communist Party leader TK Rangarajan asking him and his government to review NEET. His letter read in part -

“Anita was forced to commit suicide when she did not have the highest marks in the state curriculum in Tamil Nadu. This environment has created turmoil in the entire student community in Tamil Nadu.”

“The time has come for the state to consider its position in the problem of need, and the state should return the old state. It will be helpful to prevent frustrations of students for the 12th grade examination.”

More columns by Varun Sukumar