The girls who had reached Marthoma Institute of Information Technology in Ayur, Chadayamangalam, in Kerala’s Kollam district to take the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) this year were in for a major embarrassment and insult as they were forced by the invigilators to remove their undergarments before entering the examination hall.
More than a hundred female students had to face severe humiliation and insult when they were forced to remove their underclothes at the metal detection stage of the frisking procedure. Students said that they had to endure psychological trauma before taking the exam which needed years of dedicted preparation.
As per the code for NEET, students are not permitted to wear any metallic objects or accessories in the test centre. Shoes are not allowed, slippers and sandals are.
Father of a student from Sooranad in Kollam district who was forced to remove her innerwear, filed a police complaint. Speaking to media persons after filing the police complaint, he said: “My daughter was preparing for the NEET since she was in eighth standard and was expecting a high rank in the exam but this incident shattered her.”
After his complaint, the Chadayamangalam police registered a case under Sections 354 and 509 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Five women were arrested on July 19, 2022 after the complain. The arrested included two staff members of Marthoma Institute of Technology and three from the private agency that were assigned security duty.
The girl in her complaint stated that more than 100 girls suffered the ignominy in silence. She added that brassieres were dumped in a basket outside of the examination hall and that the exam hall had both boys and girls and that she was embarrassed to take the examination without her inner wear.
The National Testing Agency (NTA) which conducts NEET stated that there was no rule that undergarments are to be removed for writing the exam.
Interestingly, the security staff employed by the NTA for the exam duty were not aware of the trauma being faced by the students during such an examination in which mental well-being is an important criteria for performing well.
The Kerala higher education minister, Dr R. Bindhu had personally raised a complaint with the Union Education Minister on the issue and later, the Union Minister of State for External Affairs, V. Muraleedharan also took up the issue.
Subadra N., Professor at a government college in Kerala, told IANS: “Let us expect that the NTA and the authorities of the college where the exam is conducted in the coming year show more restrain and deploy wisdom before taking such drastic action. Also, let them be more responsible in employing security staff as they should have a basic minimum knowledge of how important these exams are for the future of these students and how many years of hard work and patience and gruelling studies would have gone awry just because of the foolish act by these so-called security staff hired from some unregistered private agencies.”
She said that educationists and those in charge of the affairs of the exam must conduct a proper recce on the examination and fizzle out all unwanted provisions in the NEET exam centres.