Srinagar: Ishrat is nervous as she is appearing in a pre-medical test on May 7. But her nervousness is not due to the test – National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) – rather by the dress code clause set for appearing in the examination.
Clad in full Islamic dress code with hands and face covered, Ishrat, who has worked hard for the test, fails to understand as to how she is going to the examination centre without her hijab.
“I am puzzled and nervous. How could they put such a clause for a test! They have every right to frisk before letting me in the examination hall, but who gives them this right to dictate me to put half sleeve clothes on examination day,” says Ishrat.
She had sent her younger brother to the examination centre to enquire whether they will allow her to sit in the examination with her hijab on.
“They emphatically denied any chance of allowing me to sit in the examination centre. This has worried me a lot,” she added.
Many other candidates who are putting on Islamic veil as their dress code share the same views.
The declaration that every candidate appearing for NEET has to sign has this clause among other clauses: “I will observe the following dress code in NEET examination and not wear anything which will create hindrance in frisking and could be used for hiding communication devices:
i) Light clothes with half sleeves not having big buttons, brooch/badge, flower etc with Salwar/Trouser.
ii) Candidates are wearing slippers, sandals with low heel and not the shoes(sic).”
One of the government teachers who shall be overseeing the NEET examination at one of the centres on MAy 7 said that the dress code clause will be followed in “letter and spirit”.
“We are told beforehand that the dress code clause has to be followed in letter and spirit. It says that the candidates have to appear in slippers, we can’t allow shoes,” a government teacher told Kashmir Narrator.
A male candidate, Adil, appearing in the test mocks the slipper part of dress code clause.
“Delhiites don’t know the condition of Kashmiri roads. The lane which leads to my home is waterlogged and muddy. Besides carrying my stationery items in my bag, I have to carry a slipper in my bag which I shall put on outside the examination hall,” says Adil.
There was a massive outcry in Jammu and Kashmir for introducing NEET here as it challenged one of the aspects of the special status of the state as enshrined in the Indian constitution.
NEET was described as an “infringement” on the state’s “special status and autonomy” by the National Conference when it was introduced in the state last year.
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah had criticised the Supreme Court at that time for going beyond its purview to uphold NEET in J&K.
The Indian Express reported on 25 May 2016, soon after the introduction of NEET in the state,”Should the Centre bring J&K under NEET without an executive order issued by the President to make it applicable to the state, it would be the first major breach in the constitutional arrangement between J&K and the Centre under the current dispensation. This is also why the BJP is happy, and the PDP is trying its best to control damage through perception management.”
Repeated attempts were made to reach out to NEET officials at Delhi, but they didn’t respond.