Okay so cheating is wrong, completely so, but does that give the authorities the license to strip those sitting for examinations down to their underwear, or flash torches in their ears, or remove their bra’s, or follow a dress code? Since when have examination centres become prisons?

Cheating and poor invigilation has placed honest students in the dock, with those giving examinations being harassed beyond belief. Last year in Kerala girl students were asked to remove their bra’s. This year too a girl student was made to take off her undergarments as a metal detector went off while she was passing through.

Not so many years ago those appearing for a recruitment examination for the Indian Army were made sit in an open field in their underwear.

This year the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE) laid down strict guidelines to bar the students from bringing any kind of electronic devices into the examination centre. Stationary items have also been barred. A dress code has also been imposed on the students, light clothes with half sleeeves, no buttons, brooch/bage, flowers, with of course trousers and salwars. Students cannot wear shoes, only sandals and slippers.

The students wearing what the Board terms “customary dress” are required to arrive an hour early at the examination centre so that they can be properly inspected. Metal items like earrings, nose pins, watches are also prohibuted. The only things that the students are allowed to carry are admit cards and identity proof.

Tathagata Banerjee, a student who appeared for this year’s Joint Entrance Examination Mains (JEE), said that during the whole inspection scenario with metal detectors and rude security personnel present he felt like some kind of a criminal. He also mentioned that the school where the examination centre had been located was biased towards its students and did not check them.

Tathagata said a friend giving the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) had to remove her shoes and go inside the hall barefeet, as her footwear was seen to be “suspicious”. Reports appeared in sections of the media where students had torches flashed into their ears, and hands run through their hair to make sure they were not carrying answers on slips of paper.

Sai Shree Pattnaik, a NEET aspirant described the situation as stressful. The dress was examined he students were made to go through metal detectors, and their mouth, nose and ears checked with torch light.

Ispirat Mishra, another NEET aspirant that some girls were made to remove their bras. She along with others had to give the exam barefoot. She said that the students did not even dare to question the orders to remove their footwear.

Media reported that the collars of male students T=shirts were cut, along with sacred threads on the wrist, in Pune. There were reports from Kerala last year complaining that kurtas below the knees were cut, earrings and nose pin removed.

The students are harassed for what is clearly a failure of invigilation and the system. And being treated like criminals by a system that has taken the onus off itself, and made all students guilty unless proven otherwise.