New Delhi: Raising slogans against the BJP-led Centre and the National Testing Agency (NTA), student outfits from several INDIA bloc parties staged a protest at Jantar Mantar on Wednesday against alleged irregularities in multiple competitive exams. In a separate demonstration, the Congress’ youth wing, Indian Youth Congress (IYC), protested against these irregularities near the primary protest site. Several Youth Congress workers shaved their heads as a sign of protest while raising “anti-Modi” slogans, as reported by news agency PTI.

Members of the Left-backed All India Students Association (AISA), Student Federation of India (SFI), All India Students’ Federation (AISF), along with the Samajwadi Chhatra Sabha and the Congress’ student wing NSUI, gathered at Jantar Mantar to organise a march.

The student groups intended to march to Parliament to press for their demands, which included the scrapping of the National Testing Agency, the resignation of Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, and the decentralization of entrance tests. However, the heavy police deployment and barricading at the site prevented the students from holding the march.

They also demanded a re-examination of the NEET-UG for all candidates who took the exam on May 5.

Meanwhile, the police registered an FIR under new criminal laws against some students staging an indefinite sit-in at Jantar Mantar, protesting against alleged rigging in NTA-conducted exams. Over a dozen students from different outfits, including Left-backed AISA and Delhi University’s KYS under the banner “India against NTA,” were detained on Tuesday while attempting to march to Parliament to press their demands. The police have now filed a case against these students under new criminal laws.

Their protest entered its eighth day on Wednesday as they joined the “Sansad Gherao” call by student outfits of the INDIA bloc parties. An FIR was also registered against NSUI national president Varun Choudhary and others for allegedly barging into the NTA office and putting an iron lock and chain on its entrance gate last week.

On July 1, three new criminal laws — the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS), and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam (BSA) — came into effect.

The NTA released the results of the re-test held for 1,565 candidates on Monday, who were given the opportunity to compensate for the loss of time due to the late start of the exam at six centers.

Various student outfits have been demanding a re-examination of the NEET UG for all 24 lakh candidates who appeared for it.

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Amidst the controversy over alleged irregularities in the NEET and the PhD entrance NET, the Centre removed National Testing Agency (NTA) Director General Subodh Singh last week and appointed a high-level panel headed by former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chief R. Radhakrishnan to ensure transparent, smooth, and fair conduct of examinations through the NTA.

While the NEET is under scrutiny for several irregularities, including alleged paper leaks, the UGC-NET was canceled as the education ministry received information that the exam’s integrity was compromised. Both matters are being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Additionally, two other exams — CSIR-UGC NET and NEET-PG — were canceled as a precautionary measure.

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