NEW DELHI: Three teenage girls in the state of Tamil Nadu committed suicide in just two days as they failed to qualify for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for medicine.

Eighteen-year-old M Monisha from the fishing community was found hanging in her house near Villupuram village, 170 km from Chennai. She allegedly committed suicide after she could not crack the exam for the second time this year.

"She could not succeed in her previous attempt last year and this year again she got very low scores in NEET," a district police official told the media.

On Wednesday after the NEET results were declared, two girls from Tirupur Ritushree and N.Vaishya fromPattukottai also ended their lives after they failed to pass the examination.

Ritushree’s parents worked on daily wages in the hosiery industry. All three girls were from low income groups.

These recent suicides has prompted the political parties in Tamil Nadu to raise their long standing demand to exempt students from the entrance test. Before NEET was introduced, medical college admissions in Tamil Nadu were based on the marks scored by students in the State Board exams.

The political leaders in Tamil Nadu have been agitating for the abolition of NEET, pointing out that the question paper of this entrace examination is based on on the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) syllabus, placing students of the state board schools at a major disadvantage.

M. Monisha, N Vaishiya and Ritushree (left to right)

Thereby only the students who can afford to join private coaching classes are able to clear the exams whereas the poor students from rural areas are unable to compete. The pressure is visible, with the suicides adding to the concerns. This is also seen in Tamil Nadu as an intervention in the state’s autonomy to formulate its own admission structure whereby the rural students are given a level playing field.

In 2017, S. Anitha, the daughter of a Scheduled Caste daily wage labourer from Ariyalur district, committed suicide after she failed to qualify in NEET. Anitha had scored 1,176 out of 1,200 marks in her State Board examinations but got a score of just 86 out of 720 marks in NEET as she could not afford the expensive coaching required.

She tried to fight this and petitioned the Supreme Court. Her plea that her state board marks by considered for medical admission was turned down. Anitha took her life in Ariyalur district. Her death triggered a storm of protest in Tamil Nadu that united behind the demand that the state be exempted from NEET.

If medical admissions had been held on the basis of the Plus Two scores as was the earlier practice, Anitha, on the basis of her performance in school would have secured 196.75 out of 200.

Considering that the MBBS cut-off for Scheduled Caste candidates last year was 191.25 last year, she would have, in all probability, bagged a seat in a sought after Government medical college.

Expressing their grief over the suicide of the three girls’, leaders of various political parties in Tamil Nadu reiterated their long-standing demand for scrapping the entrance test.

DMK President M.K. Stalin said, “In a federal set-up, the Central government should respect the sentiments of the states.” He said the party will raise the issue strongly in Parliament.”

The “Central government should get the President's assent to the bill passed by the Tamil Nadu assembly for exempting the state from the NEET,” Stalin added.

In a statement issued in Chennai, former Union Minister Anbumani Ramadoss, a close ally of the BJP said, “There are no longer any doubts that NEET is destroying the dreams of village youth for studying medicine.”

In July, 2017, two bills were passed by the state assembly under Edappadi K. Palaniswami government for giving exemption to students from this entrace examination for medical courses. These bills awaited presidential assent

NEET, which was declared illegal and unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2013, was restored in April 2016, by a five-judge constitution bench that allowed the Centre and the Medical Council of India (MCI) to implement the common entrance test.

In 2016, following requests from states like Tamil Nadu, government colleges were granted exemption from NEET for a year. This ended in 2017.