Amid national outrage over irregularities in NEET-UG and UGC-NET, union education minister Dharmendra Pradhan has vowed that the National Testing Agency – which conducts these entrance exams – will be strengthened and those responsible for paper leaks will be punished.

Syed Ekram Rizwi, Joint Secretary (Admin), ministry of education, talks with the students from various student organizations. (Hindustan Times file photo)

The Congress is expected to mount a massive nationwide protest today over the NEET row. The party’s general secretary, KC Venugopal, has asked supporters to protest against irregularities in the medical entrance exams, at district headquarters.

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Thousands of medical aspirants have been protesting since the NEET-UG results came out earlier this month. Dozens of aspirants had scored full 720 marks in one of the toughest exams in the country, raising suspicions of irregularities.

Here are 10 points on NEET-UG and UGC-NET rows:

  1. The minister said on Thursday that the government is committed to holding zero-error exams. It has formed a high-level committee to help NTA improve its functioning.
  2. The government has cancelled the exams of over 1500 students who got grace marks. “Regarding NEET, the first discrepancy that came to light was regarding the grace mark, due to some procedural mismanagement. A fear spread, a few students got agitated and people went to court. Later, NTA (National Testing Agency) kept a new petition before the court so that a reexamination of those students who got grace marks could be conducted. So a solution was found to the main issue related to NEET,” said Pradhan.
  3. The government earlier this week cancelled the UGC-NET exam after it found that its question paper was leaked on the internet. The minister called it an institutional failure of the National Testing Agency (NTA). “The paper leak is an institutional failure of NTA. We are assuring you that there will be a reform committee and action will be taken,” he said.
  4. The government has said that the cancellation of the UGC-NET exam was not a knee-jerk reaction. The exam was cancelled after the authorities got evidence that the paper was leaked on darknet. It was also circulating on Telegram.
  5. The high-level committee will make recommendations to further improve NTA, its structure, functioning, examination process, transparency and data security protocols. Global experts will be placed on the panel.
  6. Earlier this week, four people, including NEET aspirant Anurag Yadav, his uncle and two others, were arrested in Bihar for receiving the leaked question paper. “Then, a few issues from Patna came to light, and due to timely intervention, all those who were behind it were caught, further probe is underway. Bihar government officials and central government officials are working together to take it to a logical end,” said Pradhan.
  7. The Central government has ordered a CBI probe into the UGC-NET paper leak case. The exam was held on June 18. The NEET exam was held on May 5 and its results were declared on June 4. A whopping 67 students got the perfect score of 720, raising suspicions of a paper leak.
  8. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on Thursday that the main reason behind the paper leak was that the education system had allegedly been captured by the BJP’s “parent organisation” (RSS). “This is an anti-national activity because this is the future of the country and the youth of the country are facing the brunt of it, Silence (of government) is because the PM is crippled. Right now, the PM’s main agenda is the (election of) Speaker. He is bothered about his government and the Speaker. The PM has psychologically collapsed and he will struggle to run a government like this,” he said.
  9. The Ministry of Education has said it is waiting for a report of Bihar Police’s Economic Offences Unit on alleged irregularities in the conduct of NEET in Patna and will take further action on the basis of that.
  10. Meanwhile, Bihar’s deputy chief minister Vijay Kumar Sinha claimed the arrested prime accused in the NEET “paper leak” is linked to officials associated with RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav.

With inputs from PTI, ANI