Multiple incidents have recently emerged from NEET exam centers in Maharashtra and West Bengal, where candidates have alleged mistreatment and violation of their privacy during the examination. These instances were brought to light through social media posts by fellow students or concerned parents who reported the incidents to the authorities.
Aspiring medical college students, already anxious about the high-stakes examination, found themselves faced with last-minute changes in attire due to alleged non-compliance with the dress code set by the National Testing Agency (NTA). Some candidates hurriedly purchased alternative trousers with pockets, while others resorted to wearing leggings borrowed from their parents instead of jeans. Distressed by these sudden changes, many students lodged complaints with the NTA, which conducted the undergraduate National Eligibility cum Entrance Test 2023 across approximately 4,000 centers for over 2 million candidates.
Prior to the exam, the NTA had assured that it would provide comprehensive instructions to the exam center staff, urging them to be sensitive during the frisking process, particularly with female candidates. However, numerous candidates took to social media to report instances where their “bra straps” were checked and they were asked to open their inner wear during the frisking process.
One doctor couple, whose complaint has been submitted to TOI (Times of India), highlighted an incident where girl students at a center in Sangli (Kasturba Walchand College) were instructed to remove their kurtas and wear them inside out. The couple’s daughter informed them about this distressing experience. They emphasized that such actions were completely unacceptable and caused immense mental distress to students right before a critical examination.
A candidate who took the exam at HMC Education Centre in Hindmotor, Bengal, shared their experience on social media. They stated that several candidates were asked to change their pants or open their inner wear during the frisking process. Due to the absence of enclosures or nearby shops, female candidates were forced to change their clothes in an open playground, while their parents stood around to protect their privacy. The candidate also alleged that boys had to change their shirts with their fathers, and some even had to enter the center wearing only their inner wear because their pants were not allowed.
However, the principal of HMC Education Centre, Sonita Roy, defended the actions taken by the center. She explained that students who arrived wearing pants with pockets were asked to change as it violated the mandated dress code. According to Roy, students were advised to purchase suitable clothing from nearby shops and change in designated rooms within the center. She further clarified that any clothing changes made outside the center’s gates were not initiated by her faculty or invigilators. Roy also mentioned that students were informed they had until 1:30 pm to enter the exam center, allowing them sufficient time to change at home if it was nearby.
Sudha Shenoy, a representative for the parents, raised concerns about the lack of proper training for primary teachers who are appointed as invigilators during exams. She questioned why invigilators were not provided with a standard operating procedure (SOP) and pointed out instances where admit cards were not properly signed or important pages were missing. These issues further highlight the need for improved training and guidelines for the invigilation process to ensure the smooth and respectful conduct of examinations.
The reported incidents have raised significant concerns about the treatment of students and the violation of their privacy during important examinations like NEET. It is crucial for the NTA and exam centers to thoroughly investigate these allegations, take appropriate action against any staff found responsible for misconduct, and implement stricter guidelines to prevent such incidents from recurring in the future. Ensuring a respectful and secure environment for all candidates is essential to maintain the integrity and fairness of these crucial exams.