NSUI joins protests as National Testing Agency remains under fire

Protests have intensified across the country over alleged irregularities in the results of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (Undergraduate), or NEET.

On the one hand, candidates shouted slogans against the National Testing Agency (NTA), which is responsible for conducting the medical entrance examination, in Kanpur on Friday, June 7.

Meanwhile, the National Students' Union of India (NSUI), the student wing of the Congress, took a stand in favour of NEET aspirants on Friday.

Protests in Kanpur

In the Kakadev district of Kanpur in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, hundreds of prospective medical students demonstrated on the streets.

Many also gathered outside educational institutes to demand a re-conduct of the NEET test and a CBI inquiry into the matter.

Videos of medical students chanting slogans such as “We want justice”, “NTA Teri Tanasahi Nahin Chalegi” (NTA, your dictatorship will not last) and “NTA Chor Hai“ (NTA is a thief) were circulating on social media.

The X-Handle (formerly Twitter) “Indian Doctor” shared some of these videos and stated, “Aggressive physical protest by #NEET aspirants in #Kanpur against mass paper leakage in #NEET. Now students are taking to the streets.” [sic]”

Another post by 'Indian Doctor' on X highlighted, “Kanpur #NEET aspirants on fire. Biggest physical protest against @NTA_Exams by NEET aspirants in Kakadev of Kanpur!! Demands: #RENEET and strict CBI investigation.” [sic]”

Activist Dr. Vivek Pandey also addressed the issue, sharing a video of the protesting students and writing on X: “Re-NEET is the only solution to this corruption. Every hardworking student in India deserves a fair chance.”

NSUI gets involved

The NSUI also weighed in on the matter on Friday, with its national president Varun Choudhary and Congress leader and activist Kanhaiya Kumar criticising the National Testing Agency – which conducts the NEET – over the alleged irregularities in the results.

Speaking to reporters, Kumar urged the BJP – which has been in power for a decade and won the Lok Sabha elections for the third consecutive time earlier this week – to “stop playing with the future” of NEET aspirants.

He questioned the logic behind announcing the NEET results on June 4, though the scheduled date was June 14.

He claimed that the NTA did this because the Lok Sabha election results were being announced that day and everyone was so busy that no one had time to listen to the students.

He also called for stricter laws to combat paper leaks – one of the allegations that led to irregularities in the results this year.

Controversy over NEET results

The NEET-UG 2024 results showed that 67 candidates secured full marks (720 out of 720), leading to allegations of a paper leak scam on social media.

Scorecards of 718 or 719 also surfaced, raising further questions. The dispute stemmed from the NEET's scoring system, which awards four marks for each correct answer and deducts one mark for each incorrect answer.

Thus, after the full score of 720, the next possible score would be 716 if a question is left unanswered and 715 if a question is answered incorrectly. This discrepancy in scores has fuelled mistrust.

Adding to the speculation, a topper released by the NTA showed that eight students from the same exam centre – in Haryana – scored 720 marks, further fuelling discussions about possible irregularities.

The minimum score was also significantly higher this year; students with less than 660 points had little chance of being admitted to a state medical school.

This represents a significant increase from the previous year, when students with 600 points could obtain a place at a state university.

These concerns, especially in light of the ongoing rumours about the document leak, raised serious doubts about the credibility of NEET.

The NTA also awarded additional points as per the court order, but students argued that this sudden decision was unfair as the agency did not clarify the methodology for awarding these additional points. Demands for transparency in the process grew louder.

The controversy surrounding NEET has reached a point where hundreds of thousands of students are demanding a re-examination, citing the lack of clarity in the NTA's statements.

They have even asked the Supreme Court to intervene in the matter.

Case in court

On Friday, the Delhi High Court sought the NTA's stand on a petition filed by a NEET-UG candidate complaining about a question whose answer key contained two correct answers.

A bench of Justice DK Sharma, during its vacation, asked the NTA's counsel to seek directions on the petition.

The applicant requested that those who did not answer the question should be awarded the same number of points as those who had chosen one of the two correct answers.

The petition also stated that the principle of fairness in a selection process requires that all candidates be evaluated on an equal footing.

It was even claimed that the authorities had violated fairness by awarding points to two correct options, even though the instructions clearly stated that only one option was correct.

This article originally appeared on First south.