On the call given by the All India Congress Committee, party workers across the country staged protests and sit-ins on Friday demanding postponement of NEET and JEE exams in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.
In Delhi, hundreds of Delhi Congress workers staged a protest outside the Ministry of Education against the holding of JEE-Mains and NEET this September.
Delhi Congress unit workers led by city unit chief Chaudhary Anil Kumar assembled near Shastri Bhawan in Delhi, which houses the Education ministry and raised slogans against the Narendra Modi government.
However, they were detained by the Delhi Police and taken to Mandir Marg police station.
Similar protests by Congress workers and members of National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) were also witnessed from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat and Rajasthan.
Former Rajasthan PCC president and deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot reached the dharna site in Jaipur and said that the Central government should reconsider its decision to organise the exams as it endangers lives of thousands of students and their families.
Addressing the protests, he said, “Congress party across the country, along with NSUI, are holding ‘dharnas’ to express our sensitivity over the issue as COVID-19 cases are increasing each day and despite this rise, the students are being called to take the exams. Those students who are supposed to come to take the tests shall face many challenges as there are no transport modes available and staying in hotels is also a tough decision in wake of COVID challenges.” “How shall they pass through the containment zones to reach their exam centres?” he questioned.
“We want the Union government to reconsider the issue,” he added.
Those who marked their presence in the protests included state minister Pratap Singh Khachriyawas, Prasadilal Meena, MLA Rakesh Pareek and other Congress leaders.
Meanwhile, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter and wrote, “NEET-JEE aspirants’ safety should not be compromised due to the failures of the government. Government must listen to all stakeholders and arrive at a consensus.”
Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also took to Twitter and wrote, “The govt cannot ignore the voices of the students appearing for NEET, JEE exams and those of their concerned parents. They are the future of our country. With the rising scale of the pandemic, is it fair to expose them to infection in this manner? At least some things should be beyond politics.”
Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal visited the NSUI workers in solidarity.
“Visited NSUI protest at Shasthri Bhavan to show my solidarity. The BJP government must listen to the voice of students who are concerned about safety and transportation during Covid-19. The government must listen to them before making a decision on JEE and NEET exams,” Venugopal tweeted.
Earlier in the morning Rahul Gandhi had appealed to the people to join the nationwide protest for students’ safety. “Unite your voice with lakhs of suffering students. Speak up for student safety from 10 a.m. onwards. Let’s make the government listen to the students,” he tweeted.
While the Joint Entrance Examination (Main) is scheduled from September 1-6, the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET-UG) is planned on September 13. A total of 9.53 lakh candidates have registered for JEE-Mains, and 15.97 lakh students have registered for NEET.
At a meeting on Wednesday, Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi had discussed the issue of JEE and NEET examinations scheduled in September, among others, with the chief ministers of seven states.
After the meeting, the Congress said that the opposition has decided to move the Supreme Court against the decision of the Central government to go ahead with the NEET-JEE amid the COVID-19 pandemic and flood situation in certain states.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court had on August 17 dismissed a petition seeking the postponement of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) and Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), scheduled to be held next month.