‘Forced to remove my headscarf at Ernakulam exam centre’, complains NEET PG aspirant

Representational Image. Shaheen/Maktoob

Dr Inaas Nazimudeen, a candidate who appeared for National Eligibility cum Entrance Test postgraduate (NEET PG) examination, complaints that she was asked to remove her hijab (headscarf) despite rules mandating against it. The candidate who appeared for the exam on January 5 at Jai Bharath College of Management and Engineering, Ernakulam also said that coordinators threatened that exam results will be withheld if she attends the exam with a headscarf.

The twenty-six-year-old AIIMS graduate has been preparing for the exam for more than a year. She told Maktoob that actions by the centre officials caused her emotional torture and she could not attend the exam properly.

In 2016, Kerala High court gave permission to appear for the entrance exam with a condition to appear early at the exam centres for proper frisking. “While entering through the exam gate itself I was warned pointing at my scarf that I wouldn’t be made to write the exam with the scarf on,” says Inaas.

While trying to convince the coordinators that it is unfair, she was told that they have been given special instructions from higher authorities stop candidates with a headscarf from appearing for the exam.

“But there were no such instructions given to us beforehand or were written in the admit card,” the candidate said.

“I went to frisking area where thorough checking was going on. I removed my scarf in front of the lady coordinator who was checking the candidates. After she made sure that I was carrying no unfair means I put on my scarf back. She told me to shed off the scarf to enter the examination as no scarf is permitted inside the exam hall. I persisted saying it’s impossible to give away the scarf that I wore, as it is a part of my clothing, just as important as the top and pant would be,” she told Maktoob.

The candidate who is a physician said that the other coordinators also came upon and warned her that she wouldn’t be made to write the exam. Later she was informed by her friends that no similar incident occurred in any other exam centres.

“And if at all I was made to, my results wouldn’t be published,” she was told.

“I could not exchange my right to wear my scarf in exchange for the result. I wrote the exam thinking throughout that my results wouldn’t be published and my whole year of tireless preparation and struggle has gone in vain. My performance fell much below than what I was prepared for. Concentrating on the paper was hardly possible. Felt helpless the whole time,” the candidate says.

She also said other Muslim students who appeared in the exam faced similar treatment from the centre officials. “There were a couple of other students too sharing the same state of emotional turmoil as I was,” she told Maktoob.

“I want necessary action to be taken by the concerned authority so that such things that hurt religious sentiments never happens again in the future” she added. A complaint by the candidate has been forwarded to NEET exam authorities.

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