Anxious medical college aspirants who were told that they had not adhered to the dress code mandated by the National Testing Agency (NTA), had to comply with a last-minute change in attire. Some rushed to nearby shops to purchase an alternative to trousers with pockets while others swapped jeans for leggings worn by their parents.
Some of the students have complained to the NTA which conducted the undergraduate National Eligibility cum Entrance Test 2023 on Sunday at 4,000-odd centres for over 2 million candidates. Before the exam, the NTA had said it would issue “comprehensive instructions” to staff at exam centres to be mindful of sensitivities involved in frisking female candidates.
Many candidates took to social media to report about the manner in which “bra straps” were checked and “inner wear was asked to be opened” for frisking.
A doctor couple whose complaint is with TOI said it came to their “notice that girl students in a centre in Sangli (Kasturba Walchand College) were made to remove their kurtas and wear them inside out. This came to our notice when our daughter informed this after coming out. This is absolutely unacceptable and no way to treat students who appear for such an important exam. This action itself mentally disturbs a student before a critical exam.”
A candidate who took the exam from HMC Education Centre, Hindmotor, Bengal, took to social media to report his experience. He said several candidates were asked to “change their pants” or “open” their inner wear. “Several girl students had interchanged their jeans with their mother’s leggings…” He wrote that since there were no enclosures or shops around the centre, and as a result, “girls had to change their dresses in an open playground along with boys, with their parents surrounding their children to protect them…”
“Boys had to change their shirts with their father’s. Some went inside in inner wear at the last moment because their pants were not allowed,” he alleged.
However, the principal of HMC Education Centre, Sonita Roy, said students who came wearing pants with pockets were asked to change as the attire was against the mandated dress code. “Some students came wearing pants with pockets. We told them to buy something from the shops and change in our rooms. I was there with two observers…they came with collars. Some had six pockets. I was with my scissors and my team was cutting pockets. If some candidates changed somewhere else, it was outside our gates. We were also telling students that if your house is nearby, go and change as there was time till 1.30 pm to enter the exam centre,” added Roy. She said candidates were not asked by her faculty or invigilators to change their clothes in the open.
Parent representative Sudha Shenoy said the problem lay in the fact that primary teachers are made invigilators for exams and they are often “not trained or half trained.” “Why aren’t they given an SOP? Students have also complained that in some centres admit cards were not signed by the invigilators. In some cases, page 1 of the admit card was taken, but not page 2,” she said.
NTA representatives, despite repeated attempts, were not available for comment.
Watch Insensitive frisking to bra strap checking in open areas: This is how female aspirants were forced to endure NEET invigilation horror