Buttons ripped off, sacred threads cut, burkhas removed, shoes taken off and ear drums screened as if to clean wax — no, these are not stringent checks by airport customs to catch drug and gold smugglers, but frisking of students at NEET centres across the state in broad daylight, minutes before they were to write an exam.
No other prominent all-India examination puts aspirants through such a tedious process on the pretext of ‘taking precautions’. Such measures are unheard of in the civil services examinations that the Union Public Service Commission conducts or the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) Main that CBSE holds.
Last year, a trainee IPS officer sneaked in high-end gadgets for the CSE mains examination at a centre in Chennai. Contrastingly, the same year, a NEET aspirant in Kerala was asked to remove her brassiere at an examination centre.
While the lax in security that allowed the trainee police officer to indulge in malpractice was a wake-up call, aspirants and experts said the way in which NEET exams were conducted was unwarranted.
CBSE officials said they were only playing by the book. “All instructions were clear in the hall tickets issued to students. Only those students who don’t adhere to it were dealt with stringent measures,” an official from the Chennai regional office of CBSE told TOI.
Anything which could cause a hindrance in the way of frisking is removed, said K Srinivasan, regional officer of Chennai region. “The intention is that no students should gain any kind of unfair advantage over the other,” he said.
The problem is CBSE does not coordinate with state governments to conduct examinations unlike the UPSC or SSC, he said. “The UPSC conducts exams every other week and we do not hear of any such ridiculous measures adopted at those centres,” Devarajan said.
Aspirants of civil services examinations said they had never faced anything of the sort. “There is no dress code. Even frisking and stringent checks are rare. Only last year, students were frisked at some centres,” P Vimal Sankar who appeared for the exams thrice told TOI.
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