New Delhi, July 25: Several students who appeared here on Sunday in National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) complained they were treated badly by the invigilators -- some of the male examinees were told to take off their shirts.
Some of them said they also faced "religious discrimination" by being asked to remove the holy threads they wore on their person while skull caps were allowed.
"Though they checked us twice, I was asked to remove my full sleeved shirt before appearing for the test or else leave the examination hall. I was told it was to ensure that no one used unfair means," a student, whose examination centre was in Janakpuri, told IANS, requesting not to be named.
He said he asked where to keep his shirt, only to be told: "That's your problem."
"I was embarrassed and lost my focus even before the examination started. It was as if I was an offender or someone lesser than other candidates," he said.
A female candidate suffering from vitiligo skin condition, who appeared for the exam at Kariappa Marg centre, was asked to fold her full sleeves as high up as possible.
"They asked me why I wore the full-sleeved top. I said it was to hide my skin disorder. They asked me to fold the sleeves up to the shoulder. It was very uncomfortable for me and very insensitive on their part," she said.
Some female candidates said they were asked to remove their gold ear-rings. When they asked where they can keep the ear-rings, they were told that was their problem.
Several students complained of "religious discrimination," alleging while their holy threads were removed and amulets thrown away, some students were allowed to wear their skull caps.
One such student said: "I felt I was being discriminated against. Was my faith lesser than someone else's? It's great that some students were allowed to keep their skull caps on, but what upset me was the unequal treatment."
Officials from the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), which conducted the examination, said that candidates were instructed about proper dress code in advance.
"It is the fault of candidates and their parents. They are all involved in the unfair means, I would say. If tomorrow a candidate carries communication devices inside the exam hall, what would be your reaction? It would be that CBSE failed to conduct fair examination," Sanyam Bharadwaj, Deputy Secretary of the CBSE, told IANS.
Asked about removal of holy threads and amulets, Bharadwaj said: "We have not given this instruction, but we had asked to verify each and every candidate. Those who had to come in traditional dress were instructed to reach early so that we could frisk them properly."
The officials said it was made clear that no extra arrangements were made for safekeeping of clothes, accessories and jewellery.
"On Saturday there was a programme for candidates on All India Radio. I personally texted candidates to reach their centres in time," he said.
Several precautionary measures were ordered on Sunday for the second phase of NEET to avoid unfair means after several students were earlier caught with high-tech tools like pin-sized cameras.
The NEET is held for admission to medical courses.
Over a lakh students appeared in the second phase of NEET across the country. The first phase of NEET was held on May 1, 2016, and saw over 6.5 lakh candidates.