Girls, forced to remove undergarments, allowed to retake NEET exam
The National Testing Agency (NTA) has decided to reconduct the National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) exam for female candidates, who were allegedly asked to remove their underwear during frisking before sitting in the exam, as per India Today. The students will be offered the option to appear in the test on September 4. The students had also received confirmation from the NTA through email.
Why does this story matter?
- According to reports, getting through the NEET security check is a significant hassle for thousands of medical students.
- In addition to adhering to a strict clothing code that apparently forbids wallets, purses, belts, hats, jewelry, shoes, and high heels, candidates are advised to avoid carrying papers.
- The frisking incident in Kerala's Kollam appears to be a case of imposing harsh limitations violating the dignity.
What triggered the controversy?
The uproar erupted after reports spread that young girls were forced to remove their underwear before entering the NEET examination center in Kerala's Kollam district. The incident came to light after a parent filed a complaint with the Kottarakka Deputy Superintendent of Police. He had alleged that examiners considered the metal hooks in candidate's bra a 'security risk.'
What did the complaint highlight?
In his letter to the Kerala Police, the man alleged that his daughter had seen a "roomful of innerwear that was taken," and many girls were sobbing and feeling "mentally tortured." He also alleged many students cut their metal hooks and reportedly tied up their inners. "The mental state of these children was disturbed...they could not attend the exam comfortably (sic)," his complaint stated.
How did authorities act?
Following the incident, an FIR was filed against seven persons under sections 354 and 509 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for forcing the girls to remove their underwear and insulting them. Later, authorities arrested the accused in the case including two college employees and three NTA employees. Later, accused were released on bail in the case.
NHRC took cognizance, ordered probe
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) also took notice of the event and directed an investigation. The National Commission for Women and the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights too demanded punishment against those involved in the incident. Later, the NTA formed a three-member fact-finding team to investigate the claims and report back in four weeks.
NTA had defended NEET exam rules, dress code
"As far as...dress code for NEET is concerned, it does not permit any such activity as alleged by the parent," NTA had stated amid the controversy. "The code provides for ensuring the sanctity and fairness...while observing sensitivity toward the gender/religious/cultural/regional sensitivities involved in facilitating frisking and biometric entry of candidates." Notably, Kerala MP NK Premachandran had called for a reassessment of the NEET guidelines.