CHENNAI: They came, the girls with their hair neatly tied with rubber bands and hair clips and boys in full sleeve shirts and shoes. Everything seemed fine till they reached the front gate of the exam centre where they were to take the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) on Sunday.
Once they were frisked by the security officials at the gates, those wearing full sleeves were told to make it half sleeves, in compliance with the dress code of the CBSE for NEET. Though the rules were clearly mentioned in the official website for NEET, many were caught unawares.
Result: girls with long hair were compelled to untie their hair and enter the hall. Those wearing shoes went in bare foot. Those wearing earrings, rings and bangles were forced to take them off. The security officials were also seen checking the ears of the students using torch to see if any objectionable thing was being carried. In the end, by the time the students entered the exam hall, most of them looked dishevelled.
The only silver lining for students in an exam centre in the city was that they did not have to go in search of someone to cut their clothes, thanks to the presence of Priya U, a parent who is also a dress-maker.
“I got scissors from one of the parents here. As I am a dress-maker, I could cut the sleeves in shape,” she said. Soon the candidates who wore full sleeves were all directed towards her. She obliged, ensuring that she waited till the deadline for entering the exam halls.
Both students and parents were miffed with the dress code and frisking. “Students are already under pressure. This frisking and cutting of sleeves are too much to handle. This is not a class examination where students can cheat,” said M Ganesh, a parent at the DAV Boys Senior Secondary School, Mogappair, one of the exam centres.
Ratan Sharma, a parent who was seen busy cutting the sleeves of his son’s shirt, said, “They should have mentioned this in the admit card. This is harassment, forcing kids to cut their clothes on the road. They should have at least provided a private place. Not everyone will be checking the website.”
While students who came with parents could keep their belongings with them, those who came alone were clueless. I Tahamina was furious when she was told to cut her full sleeve dress. “I did not want to sit for this test. I am already working in an IT firm. Only for my father, I came. This is utter nonsense. I did not know anything about the rules,” she said, while entering the hall.
Priya, another student who came late, was unwilling to cut her full sleeve branded kurti into half sleeve. “I can never wear this again. I am wearing a gold earring and cannot allow them to take this off. Maybe, I will have to entrust it with the guards if they do not allow me to enter wearing my earrings,” she said.
In some centres, there was confusion of a different kind. For DAV Group of Schools, only the centre number was mentioned. It was not clear whether it meant DAV Boys or DAV Girls. A candidate who came at the last minute had to cut off her shirt sleeve, take off ornaments and shoes and was about to enter the hall at DAV Boys School in Mogappair when she realised it was the wrong centre. She was supposed to go to DAV Girls School. She panicked, but then ran towards the DAV Girls School that was 200 m away.
Some students were seen nervous after realising that they forgot to bring their passport size photograph, without which they cannot sit for the test. They were saved by photographers inside the centres. There was also a confusion as students did not read the notification sent by the CBSE properly regarding two passport photographs. Many brought only one photograph.
While DAV group of schools ensured strict check, full sleeves were not cut in SBOA Global School in Anna Nagar. Students were only asked to fold their full sleeves while entering the hall. “Instead of frisking, they should have used sensors. This creates a psychological pressure for the students,” said a parent.