New Delhi: Many students have taken to Twitter to express their concern over the holding of National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) and the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) during the COVID-19 pandemic, amid a plea by opposition leaders on Friday seeking review of the Supreme Court's order allowing the Centre to conduct the entrance exams in September.
The hashtag 'speakupforstudentsafety' has been trending since Friday morning with at least 2.25 million posts on the microblogging site.
While many students in their tweets pointed out the challenges of making it to examination centres under the present circumstances, others talked about their inability to cope with the stress of having to appear for the JEE and NEET, especially when coronavirus cases are on the rise.
On Friday, ministers of six opposition-ruled states also moved the Supreme Court on seeking review of its order permitting the Centre to conduct NEET and JEE amid the persisting situation.
The top court on August 17 had refused to interfere with the conduct of medical and engineering entrance exams scheduled to take place in September saying that life must go on and students can't lose a precious year due to the pandemic.
500 cases: Complete lockdown. 75000 cases: Students forced for exams! #SpeakUpForStudentSafety," a Twitter user posted.
Expressing his grievances, another student urged President Ram Nath Kovind to intervene.
#SpeakUpForStudentSafety I would like you Mr President @rashtrapatibhvn to indulge in this issue because the government is not helping us. They are throwing us in the valley of death and we don't want to die. Please help us Sir. #UGCGuidelines #neetJEE2020," he tweeted.
While the NEET is slated to be held on September 13, engineering entrance exam JEE-Main is scheduled between September 1-6.
Many students, particularly those who went back to their home towns during the COVID-19-induced lockdown, cited geographical challenges to explain their request to postpone the examinations, a concern that was also raised by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor in a video on Friday.
Expressing solidarity with the brave students of the National Students Union of India, who went on a hunger strike in Bengaluru demanding that the examinations be postponed, Tharoor said that the Centre's decision made no sense.
The students' worries found vindication in a post by a friend of a NEET aspirant.
The Twitter user shared a video of his friend's flooded residential area in Chhattisgarh, while the rain continued to pour.
He wrote, "This is My friend VIKAS KHATRI'S House video in Khairagarh Chhattisgarh. He is Neet aspirant the electricity is off since 2 days, How he will manage equality with the Elite class students & his Centre is 85 km away just think @DrRPNishank #neetJEE2020 #SpeakUpForStudentSafety."
A JEE aspirant said he recently tested positive for the coronavirus and was currently confined to a COVID-19 centre.
"I m student of JEE But I found covid positive without any symptom and my JEE exam on 4 SEP I'm in covid center guys plz help me Nta cheif plz solve this matter #SpeakUpForStudentSafety," he tweeted along with a photo of his admit card and COVID-19 test result.
To show that taking exams during a pandemic came had its risk, a Twitter user shared a video of a Banaras Hindu University student who tested positive after appearing in the UP B.Ed examination on August 9.
Did @myogiadityanath ji lie to the nation? He said nothing wrong happened in the UP BEd Exam. Then what is this? #PostponeNEETJEE_Today #SpeakUpForStudentSafety #JusticeForStudents," she wrote.
On Friday, Congress launched a campaign against the government's decision to conduct the exams next month, with Rahul Gandhi urging people to speak up for the safety of students.
The nation-wide protests against the JEE and NEET exams also found supporters in international activists. Climate activist Jerome Foster II joined Greta Thunberg in speaking up against the government's decision to hold the exams and said students need to be protected.
Ugandan activist Venessa Nakate also joined the voices by asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to postpone the exams.
Terming the government's decision to hold exams as "unacceptable", eight-year-old Manipuri climate activist Licpriya Kangujam said that it would put millions of students in "death risk".