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10 May 2017

Principal told to apologise to teen

K.M. Rakesh, TT, May 9: The principal of a Kerala school where a girl was forced to remove her bra before being allowed to take the all-India medical entrance exam on Sunday has been advised by the CBSE to apologise to the 19-year-old.
"The incident reported at TISK English Medium School is very unfortunate and apparently due to consequences of a few overzealous female frisking staff of the school involved in the process," the Central Board of Secondary Education said. "CBSE has advised the school principal to tender an unconditional apology to the candidate. The agony and inconvenience caused to the candidate inadvertently is deeply regretted by the CBSE," the statement added.
The school at Kovvapuram in Kannur district said four teachers assigned the task of screening candidates arriving for the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) had been suspended for 30 days pending an inquiry.
It was not clear if the suspensions would come into immediate effect, as the institution is closed for the summer break, or once it reopens in the first week of June. Calls to the school principal's cellphone went unanswered.
After the hand-held metal detector beeped during the scan, the girl was forced to remove the innerwear and hand it to her mother, who was waiting outside the centre, before she could enter.
The dress code for the NEET, imposed in 2015 after the test had to be cancelled because of mass copying, bans metallic items to pre-empt cheating through hidden electronic devices. But ordinarily, this is understood to apply to earrings, hairpins, headbands, big metal buttons and the like.
The CBSE, which conducts the exam, said it would sensitise frisking staff to prevent a repeat of such incidents.
Around 30 minutes earlier, the girl had been asked to change her black trousers as candidates are allowed to wear only light-coloured clothes. She had to go to a shop to buy a new pair and by the time she returned, only 10 minutes were left for the exam to begin. When she was told to remove the bra, the girl took it off in the screening room itself, unwilling to waste any more time as the nearest washroom was a few minutes' walk.
The incident attracted severe criticism from the state human rights commission, which ordered a police investigation and sought a report from the CBSE within three weeks.
The school issued the suspension order soon after members of CPM students' wing SFI staged protest marches to the institution and the CBSE's regional headquarters in state capital Thiruvananthapuram.
The girl's mother, a schoolteacher, said the incident had left the teenager scarred. "Just imagine the plight of a young girl having to write an exam without her innerwear," she told The Telegraph today. "My family didn't seek action on any official as we were only worried about my child's future after the incident," she said, asked about the suspensions.
"My daughter prepared for a year to write the exam as she was determined to get a medical seat in a good college. Now I don't know what will happen as the incident affected her confidence," the mother said.
After the three-hour test, the girl had said her experience had left her "rattled" and she didn't "know how I managed to write the exam". She had said at least three others had been told to remove their bras before entering the hall.
In the Kerala Assembly today, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan lashed out at the dress code of the CBSE. "We will take up the issue with the central government as students who had to endure the harassment faced unnecessary mental stress minutes before an important exam," the CPM politburo member said.
In a Facebook post, Vijayan said: "No measure must be implemented if a civilised society cannot accept it."
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