NEET scandal: Humiliating frisking leaves lasting mental scars

Representational image: Manorama

The frisking incident that happened at the NEET – UG exam centre in Kollam Ayoor, can only be described as extremely deplorable. I too am someone who got through this national-level entrance exam, first for MBBS and then for PG. But, then, it was not called NEET. I can, however, assure that things were ‘neater’ than what is happening now.

Since when did we begin seeing the candidates who come to write an exam as ‘terrorists’. I doubt whether the students would be forced to frisk down to their underwear, for any other examination. I didn’t find any guideline suggesting that the candidates should be frisked like this. It is understandable not allowing the candidates to wear long-sleeved clothes or cover the face. Besides, those who wear customary attires prescribed by a certain religion are instructed to reach the exam centre well in advance for proper frisking. However, no where is it mentioned that such frisking should be done by insulting the dignity of the candidates. So, I don’t understand how the authorities at this particular exam centre got the idea. They are surely answerable.

I wonder whether the authorities had considered the mental state of the candidate then. I still can feel the stress that I had experienced when I wrote the medical entrance twenty years ago. Every student would be going through severe mental pressure as he/she reaches the exam centre. Our years of hard work and perseverance would be judged in a test that lasts for only a few hours. This exam is what determines their future. Shouldn’t we arrange facilities, at these exam centres, that would actually make the students calm?

It is important that there should be proper frisking and other guidelines to conduct the exam efficiently. However, is there a need for such brutal methods to ensure that? There are lots of methods to find the metal objects. Is it necessary that you should resort to such degrading methods? Can you imagine the mental trauma of the students when they go through such humiliating frisking methods? Moreover, this would be a shock to someone who comes to the exam hall, not expecting such methods. I don’t think those students could have been able to write the exam with a clear head.

The authorities of the exam centre had apparently asked the student whether her future or her underwear was more important. How can they ask such insensitive questions to a youngster? Who gave them the permission to challenge the dignity of another individual?

The reprehensible fact, however, is that all these innerwear were dumped in a room; that too during the pandemic time. What kind of Covid prevention is this? Lastly, what happened at that exam centre was not ‘neat’ at all!

(The author is a community health expert)

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