Hours after an 18-year-old girl student from Kerala alleged that she was forced to remove her bra before sitting for National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) in a centre in Kannur, the state human rights commission has taken cognizance of the matter.
Anitha* had alleged that she and several other girl candidates who appeared for the eligibility test at Tisk English Medium School, were asked to remove their bra before entering the exam hall, since they had a metal hook. They were told that this was in accordance to the guideline that barred the candidates from carrying any "metallic objects" to the exam hall.
Maintaining that forcing the girl candidates to remove their bra was violation of their basic human rights, the commission ordered an inquiry into the matter on Monday.
Commission's acting chairperson P Mohandas has asked the CBSE regional director and Kannur district police chief to submit an explanation on the matter within a period of three weeks. Registering a suo motu case on the matter, the state human rights commission has also sought the intervention of the National Human Rights Commission.
Meanwhile, Kannur MP P K Sreemathy said that she will apprise Chief Minister Pianrayi Vijayan about the matter and seek a thorough investigation on the matter.
Addressing a press meet in Kannur, MP Sreemathy said that whoever is responsible for the "wretched" act must be punished.
"The culprits must be identified and brought to books. I am planning to approach the state human rights commission, the women's commission and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to bring it to their notice," Sreemathy said.
Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) former state president VM Sudheeran remarked, "Let's all hang our heads in shame."
Taking to Facebook on Monday afternoon, the senior Congress man said that both the state and the central government has the responsibility of taking stringent action against those responsible. "It's a shame if such people, who destroy the integrity of our girl children are allowed to continue in service," he wrote.
Recounting the harrowing experience, Anitha had earlier on Monday told TNM, "When I walked through the metal detector, it beeped. I told them that it was my bra-strap that had a metal hook on it, but they refused to let me in. They insisted that I remove it. Although I argued with them that the rules does not mention anything about innerwear, they refused to hear my pleas. Then I went to one side of the room, removed my bra and handed it over to my mother who was standing outside the gate. As I entered the exam hall to write the test, I had little confidence left in me."
She added that the harassment had even affected her performance in the entrance test.
"My daughter was wearing an expensive bra, that had a metal hook unlike the less costlier ones that have plastic hooks. So many of the other students did not have the problem, but a few including my daughter were harassed. How can they ask an 18-year-old girl to remove her bra just ahead of appearing for a test? What common sense is this?" Anitha's mother Rohini* said.
*Name changed on request