‘Take Bra In Hand And Leave’: After NTA Denial, 5 Women Arrested; Fact-Finding Panel Set Up

Thiruvananthapuram: Five women have been arrested in Kerala for allegedly forcing girl students to remove their bras before allowing them to appear for NEET at an exam centre in Kollam district on Sunday. The National Testing Agency (NTA), which on Tuesday denied the allegation, has constituted a fact-finding committee after huge protests, according to a PTI report.

The alleged incident took place at the Mar Thoma Institute of Information Technology at Ayur in Kollam, about 60 km from Thiruvananthapuram.

The father of a 17-year-old girl, who allegedly went through the ordeal, has lodged a police complaint. He has alleged in his complaint that his daughter was asked to remove her bra after its metal hooks beeped during frisking. He alleged that many women candidates were asked to remove their innerwear.

Three of the arrested women work for an agency hired by the NTA. The other two work at the private educational institution where the alleged incident took place.

“They called me and said there would be scanning. We thought they would let us go after the scan but they made us stand in two queues — one for girls wearing bras without metal hooks, and the other line…,” one of the girl students told NDTV.

“They asked me, are you wearing underwear with a metal hook? I said yes, so was asked to join that line,” she said.

“They asked us to remove our bras and put them on a table,” she alleged.

After the exam, they were allegedly told to collect their bras and leave.

“They said take your bras in your hand and leave, no need to wear them. We were very embarrassed. But everyone waited to change. It was dark and there was no place to change…it was a terrible experience. When we were writing the exam, we put our hair in front as we had no shawl to cover ourselves…There were boys and girls and it was really difficult and uncomfortable,” the girl was quoted as saying in the NDTV report.

The NTA, which conducts the test, set up the fact-finding panel after the Kerala government lodged strong protests with the Centre. Union minister V Muraleedharan and other leaders from Kerala also met Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and demanded strong action.

Kerala’s Higher Education Minister R Bindu also wrote to Pradhan, expressing “dismay and shock” at the news of “naked assault on the dignity and honour of the girl students.”

The Union Ministry of Education said that the alleged incident had been brought to its notice and, accordingly, a fact-finding committee has been constituted to ascertain the facts.

The NTA in a statement on Tuesday said that no such incident was reported from the exam centre.

“On the issue of a media report that a candidate appearing for NEET(UG) at the Mar Thoma Institute of Information Technology, Ayur, Kollam, on 17 July was asked to remove her innerwear, it is informed that — on the receipt of the report, immediate comments of the Centre Superintendent and the Independent Observer as well as the City Coordinator, Kollam district, were obtained. All three of them have, inter alia, stated that they did not find any such incident happening in the centre. The candidate did take the examination,” it said.

“There was no representation/ complaint to anyone during or immediately after the examination. Nor has the NTA received any email/ complaint in this regard,” the statement added.

“As far as the NTA’s Dress Code for NEET is concerned, it does not permit any such activity alleged by the parent of the candidate,” it said.

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