Updated June 11th, 2024 at 23:34 IST

Mass Protest Erupts at Education Ministry Over Alleged NEET Anomalies, Re-Exam Demanded

Students from across the country gathered outside the Ministry of Education in New Delhi to protest against alleged irregularities in the NEET UG Results 2024.

Reported by: Nandini Verma
SFI protests against NEET irregularities | Image:Social Media
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Today, students from across the country gathered outside the Ministry of Education in New Delhi to protest against alleged irregularities in the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET UG) 2024 results. The protest, led by the Students' Federation of India (SFI), saw a significant turnout of medical aspirants and their parents, all demanding transparency and fairness in the examination process conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA).

Backed by the left-leaning students' organization, protestors gathered today calling for the complete dismantling of the National Testing Agency (NTA). The demonstration, organized by the Students' Federation of India (SFI) and the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU), demanded an independent and transparent investigation into the alleged irregularities in the NEET UG 2024 examination.

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"Students demand an independent and transparent investigation into the alleged irregularities in the NEET exam to ensure accountability. We demand the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) establish a more reliable and secure examination system to safeguard the integrity of entrance exams," stated Avijit Ghosh, Vice President of JNUSU.

Sooraj Elamon, Joint Secretary of SFI Delhi, criticized the NTA's handling of recent examinations. "Time and again, the NTA has backstabbed the student community through flawed ways of conducting examinations. During the recent CUET exams, students suffered due to various discrepancies at the exam centers, and no adequate actions were taken. The NTA has proven itself to be an incompetent body that can't ensure free and fair examinations. The MHRD should take immediate steps to scrap the NTA," he declared.

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Key Issues Raised by Protesters

Suspicious Scoring Patterns: One of the primary concerns raised by the protesters was the unusual scoring pattern where multiple students reportedly received scores of 718 and 719. Given the NEET UG 2024 marking scheme, where each correct answer awards 4 marks and each incorrect answer deducts 1 mark, these scores seemed improbable to many.

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Exam Centre Anomalies: Reports of multiple toppers emerging from the same exam centre in Jhajjar, Haryana, also fueled suspicions. According to these reports, eight students from this centre achieved perfect scores of 720/720 amidst alleged disruptions during the examination, raising questions about the integrity of the process.

Erroneous Answer Keys: A significant number of students challenged the answer key for a particular physics question, arguing that two options were correct. This led to discrepancies in scoring, as students who attempted the question received grace marks, while those who recognized the ambiguity and chose not to answer were penalized.

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Time Loss and Grace Marks: The allocation of grace marks to students from Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, and Chhattisgarh, who approached the high courts regarding lost exam time, also sparked controversy. Many questioned the criteria used by the NTA to identify affected candidates and the absence of such provisions in the NEET-UG 2024 prospectus.

Alleged Paper Leaks: Despite multiple reports and arrests related to NEET UG 2024 question paper leaks, the NTA proceeded with the result declaration, coinciding with the announcement of parliamentary election results. This timing and the handling of the leaks have further eroded trust in the examination process.

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Collective Voices and Demands

The Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) joined the SFI in the protest, along with the All-India Students’ Association (AISA), which declared today as an “All India Protest Day” against alleged corruption in the NTA. The protesters called for:

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  • Cancellation of NEET UG 2024: Demanding a re-exam to ensure fairness.
  • Investigation by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI): To look into the alleged irregularities, including paper leaks and score anomalies.
  • Scrapping of NTA: Due to multiple allegations of misconduct in conducting the NEET exams.

Legal Actions

Several aspirants have already taken legal action, filing petitions in various courts across India. On June 1, a petition was submitted to the Supreme Court, urging it to direct the NTA to conduct a re-examination for NEET UG 2024.

Official Response

The Education Ministry's National Testing Agency (NTA) held a press conference on Saturday to address the growing concerns and allegations surrounding the NEET UG 2024 examination results. The controversy primarily revolves around an unusually high number of candidates securing top ranks and higher marks.

During the conference, the Director General of NTA announced the formation of a four-member high-power committee to investigate the matter. This committee is tasked with examining the issues raised, specifically focusing on approximately 1,600 candidates from six examination centers. The committee's investigation will determine whether a re-examination or any other corrective measures are necessary.

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The Director General assured the media and concerned stakeholders that the NTA is committed to ensuring transparency and fairness in the examination process. "We understand the gravity of the situation and are taking all necessary steps to address the concerns raised by the candidates and their families," he stated.

Further actions will be based on the recommendations provided by the high-power committee, which is expected to conduct a thorough review of the irregularities reported. The NTA aims to maintain the integrity of the examination system and ensure that all candidates are evaluated fairly.

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Published June 10th, 2024 at 15:59 IST