Medical exams in Maharashtra begin amidst strong opposition from students

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Nearly six months after exams were originally scheduled to take place, undergraduate second and third year medical, dental and diploma course exams commenced across colleges in the state on Thursday. Nearly 40,000 students will appear for their winter session exams in the physical mode between June 10 and 30 across Maharashtra.

“As if the pandemic was not enough, incessant rains across several districts of Maharashtra has affected basic travel for students at present. However, our state government seems insistent on conducting these exams in the offline mode, putting thousands of lives at risk,” said a student on condition of anonymity.

For the past few days, students have taken to social media sites to share their anger and fear of being “forced” to appear for exams in the offline mode despite Maharashtra still registering some of the highest numbers of Covid-19 cases in the country.

“We students share hostel rooms and the bathrooms during exams, which is leading to more fear among students. While the exam authorities are insisting on safety protocols at exam centres, no one is demanding the same at hostels where students are staying and this could lead to chaos,” said another student.

Usually scheduled to take place in the month of December-January, the second and third year MBBS, BDS, and other para medical and certificate course exams were postponed three times this year due to rising Covid-19 cases recorded across the state. From January this year, to February the exams were then scheduled to take place in April. However, due to the second wave of Covid-19 gripping the nation, these exams were once again postponed to June by the state government.

Last week, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court heard a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by HERD Educational and Medical Research Foundation, a Nagpur-based NGO and a physiotherapy student Nitesh Dhanraj Tantarpale requesting either online examinations or vaccination for nearly 40,000 undergraduates before the exams.

Refusing to give interim relief from the upcoming winter session examinations, the court however directed the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS) to issue an advisory to the principals of various medical colleges across the state and also to publish on its website indicating that it would be desirable that examinees should have themselves tested for Covid-19 and should produce a negative RT-PCR report along with the hall ticket on June 10.



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