"we saw our daughter in tears."
At a private institution in Kollam, Kerala, hundreds of female students were allegedly forced to remove their bras before they could sit their National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET).
The incident came to light after the father of a 17-year-old girl filed a police complaint.
The incident happened at the Mar Thoma Institute of Information Technology.
Gopakumar Sooranad said that after his daughter had entered the exam centre, he and his wife were about to have lunch when they received a call requesting them to come to the gate.
Gopakumar said: “When we reached the gate, we saw our daughter in tears.
“She said that she and other girls were being asked to remove part of their inner wear and asked for a shawl to wear during the test.
“My wife gave her a shawl and she went back inside and we thought that was that.
“However, after the exam, my daughter returned still looking distressed and broke into tears in my wife’s arms.
“On the way home, she told us what had transpired during the test. It was startling.”
The teenager said that one invigilator said she had to remove her bra or else she could not sit the exam.
Gopakumar continued: “There were two rooms where undergarments of young women and girls were stacked on top of each other in violation of Covid-19 protocols.
“Those writing the exams are between the age groups of 17 to 23.
“Imagine how uncomfortable it would be for them to concentrate during the exam when surrounded by male students as well.”
The other female students were also forced to remove their bras before sitting the exam.
A complaint was subsequently registered.
The examination centre operators reportedly said bras were requested to be removed as the metal fasteners would come in contact with the metal detector.
However, the National Testing Agency claimed they received no complaint. They also dismissed the allegations made.
On July 19, 2022, police registered a case under sections 354 (Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 509 (Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code.
The Kerala State Human Rights Commission also ordered an inquiry into the incident.
Kerala’s Higher Education Minister Dr R Bindu wrote a letter to Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, demanding strict action against the agency involved in this incident.
He said the agency which has been entrusted with the conduct of the examination, allegedly forced the female students to undress before entering the examination centre.
Dr Bindu said that the incident affected the students and their exams.
He added: “We strongly oppose such inhuman treatment on the part of an agency, which is only entrusted with the task of conducting the examination in a fair manner.”