The near strip-testing of the students appearing for the NEET examination was nothing short of display of total insensitivity of the officialdom. The CBSE had issued detailed instructions on the dos and don’ts to the students but some schools in Kerala went overboard. What made matters worse is that girl students were made to bear the brunt. DC looks at the issue, gets experts view on what has happened and the measures to prevent them in the future.
Thiruvananthapuram: The near strip-testing of the students appearing for the NEET examination has brought into sharp focus the complete insensitivity of the officialdom towards candidates, particularly girl students.
The officials in some of the centres stretched the rules too far causing severe mental stress to candidates. Though the CBSE had issued detailed instructions on the dos and don’ts to the students taking the test, some of the institutions in the state went overboard while implementing these norms.
In the instructions given to the students, it was mentioned that metallic items are barred. But there was no clarity on clothes having metallic stuff.
In the dress code laid down for candidates, it was stated that students were not allowed to wear clothes which could obstruct frisking or could be used for hiding communication devices.
Even in the case of buttons, the specific instruction barred clothes with big buttons, brooch /badge, flower etc. Parents allege that there was lot of ambiguity in instructions given by CBSE. “Me and my daughter underwent a harrowing experience,” said Rajesh, father of one the candidates who faced harassment. “The child who had gone to the examination centre brimming with confidence returned crying within minutes. Officials said she cannot wear jeans having metallic button. I removed the button with a blade and sent her back. She was back again soon saying officials had objection to metallic button pockets. With just minutes left I rushed to get leggings three km away from centre.”
There was complete chaos on Sunday. The officials at many centres were clueless about the specific instructions. “We will raise this matter with the CBSE secretary day after tomorrow,” Mr Rajesh said. “Police officials from Pariyaram station called me to check if we had a complaint. But we are not keen on police compliant.”
Mr Rajesh said the incident has almost ruined the career of his daughter. “After exams she came crying and said dad don’t ask me how it went,” he said.
The mother of another candidate who was forced to remove her brassier said the action of the officials was bizarre. “I was shocked to see my daughter returning from the examination centre. She handed over the bra saying it was not permitted. I was stunned and you can imagine the horrific experience the child would have undergone,” she said.
“I wonder how boys who wear jeans with metal buttons, metallic zippers were allowed? Are there different yardsticks? All these issues need to be clarified,” she said.
The lady said her daughter had prepared very hard for NEET for almost a year. “She could not concentrate on the test after the humiliating experience,” she said. “All her hard work has gone waste. Imagine the trauma the kid must be experiencing now. My only request to NEET board to initiate corrective measures to ensure that at least next time no child undergoes the experience of my kid.”
A cross section of parents said the authorities should review the instructions and also examine whether metal detectors are required at the examination centres at all.
While there is a view that if strip search could happen in airport why such a hue and cry over the issue at NEET Centre? Experts say strip-search in airports and examination centres are two different issues. Candidates writing such high profile tests are already under tremendous stress. Forcing them to remove undergarments or change clothes at the last moment could have disastrous consequences on their performances. The issue needs to be handled with a human touch.
Meanwhile, sources at the CBSE regional office in Thiruvananathapuram said that they had not received any complaint regarding excesses in the name of security check at the NEET examinations. The tests were being directly conducted under the supervision of the headquarters, they added.
Dress code for NEET candidates as per the declaration a student has to sign to get the admit card:
Light clothes with half sleeves not having big buttons, brooch/badge, flower etc, with salwar/trouser
Slippers, sandals with low heels, and not shoes.
The candidates are barred from bringing, among others, to the examination hall:
Stationary, electronic equipment/gadgets, communication devises, handbags, belts, wallets, bags, eatables, water bottles, any metallic item, wrist watch or