New Delhi: Five women, who allegedly forced female students in Kerala to remove their innerwear to appear for NEET-UG 2022, have been arrested, police said on Tuesday (July 19, 2022). While three of the arrested women worked for an agency hired by the National Testing Agency (NTA), two worked for the private educational institution at Ayur in Kollam where the incident happened, news agency PTI reported. The Kerala police registered a case based on the complaint of the girl, who alleged that she was asked to remove her bra before she could be permitted to appear for the July 17 eligibility test. The NTA, which conducts the test, has also set up the panel after the Kerala government took up the issue with the Centre seeking strong action. The personnel reportedly objected to the metallic hook in the innerwear.

IPC 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) have been invoked, police said.

The arrest followed protests that began on July 18 and intensified on Tuesday in Kerala’s southern region of Kollam.

Taking note of the allegation, the Union Ministry of Education (MoE) said that it has been brought to its notice through various media reports that an incident allegedly happened in one of the centres of NEET (UG)-2022 in Kerala. Accordingly, the Ministry said, a fact-finding committee was constituted by the NTA to ascertain the facts in detail.

Earlier, the NTA rubbished the claims of a 17-year-old student that she was asked to remove her innerwear on Sunday saying the exam centre superintendent has informed that the complaint is “fictitious” and filed with wrong intentions.

NEET UG 2022: NTA constitutes a Fact Finding Committee to visit Kerala

The Ministry of Education said that it has been brought to their notice through various media reports that an incident allegedly happened in one of the Centre’s of NEET (UG)- 2022 near Kollam district in Kerala and that they have asked the NTA to ascertain all the facts about the incident on the spot from stakeholders present at the Centre at that time.

“Accordingly, a Fact Finding Committee has been constituted by the NTA to ascertain the facts in detail. Further action will be taken based on the report of the Fact Finding Committee,” the Ministry said in a statement.

Regarding the issue, V Muraleedharan, MOS, Ministry of External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs and other public representatives from Kerala also met Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

NEET UG 2022: ‘Naked assault on dignity of girl students’, Kerala Minister writes to Dharmendra Pradhan

Kerala Higher Education Minister R Bindu, in a letter to Dharmendra Pradhan, expressed “dismay and shock” at the news of the “naked assault on the dignity and honour of the girl students.” Bindu sought action to prevent future occurrences of a similar nature and sought the Union minister’s intervention in the matter.

A senior NTA official, however, said, “No complaint or representation has been received by us. On basis of claims in media reports, an immediate report was sought from the centre superintendent and observer. They have informed that no such incident took place and the complaint is fictitious and has been filed with wrong intentions.” 

The NEET dress code does not permit any such activity as alleged by the parent of the candidate. The code provides for ensuring sanctity and fairness of exam while observing sensitivity towards gender, culture and religion during frisking of candidates, the NTA official added.

NEET UG 2022 sees 95% attendance with record 18.72 lakh applicants

About 95 per cent attendance was on Sunday recorded in the medical entrance exam NEET, which had received the highest number of applications ever, according to National Testing Agency (NTA) officials. Breaching the 18-lakh mark, a total of 18,72,329 candidates had registered for the largest entrance exam in the county of which 10.64 lakh were female.

“About 95 per cent attendance was recorded today,” a senior NTA official said.

This was the first time that the number of registrations for the NEET medical entrance exam surpassed 18 lakh, a considerable increase of over 2.5 lakh from 2021.

Last year, the NEET-undergraduate exam was held on September 12, with over 95 per cent of the registered candidates appearing for it. Over 15.44 lakh candidates appeared for the exam, which was conducted at 3,858 centres. Of these, at least 8.70 lakh students had qualified.

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