Angry parents hurt over the manner in which their daughters were forced to remove their clothes, including inner wear, for appearing in the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test, on Monday said they would file complaints before the Central Board of Secondary Education and National Human Rights Commission.
The strict adherence to the CBSE's anti-cheating dress code for those appearing for the NEET saw an invigilator asking a student in Pariyaram in Kannur to remove her bra before writing the exam on Sunday.
Reacting to the incident, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said "forcibly implementing such regulations in the name of dress code cannot be accepted by any civilised society."
A few complaints have been received on the manner in which some students were frisked in certain examination centres, he said in a Facebook Post.
He said a student was asked to remove her inner wear.
"If the incident is true, it is a serious violation of human rights. Such restrictions will mentally affect the children appearing for the exams," the chief minister said.
The Kerala Child Rights Commission has sought a detailed report from CBSE within 10 days, even as the Kerala Human Rights Commission suo motu registered a case against the CBSE and demanded a high level probe.
"The CBSE Regional director has been asked to give an explanation within three weeks. Kannur district police chief has also been asked to file a report," the Commission said.
The commission in a letter also urged the NHRC to immediately intervene and take stern steps against CBSE for human rights violations.
On Sunday, a 19-year-old student was allegedly forced to remove her bra before being allowed to write the exam at the Pariyaram school in Kannur where she was appearing for the NEET exam after a year-long preparation.
"After my daughter entered the exam centre, she came out and handed me her bra, saying she had been asked to remove it as per the CBSE dress code," the girl's mother said.
She said the invigilator directed her daughter to remove the inner wear after the metal detector emitted a beep sound apparently due to the presence of a metal hook.
V Rajesh, a postal department employee and father of another examinee, said his daughter was first asked to remove the metal button on her jeans.
"After complying with the same, she was asked to remove the jeans as it had pockets. I had to rush to a shop about three kms away to purchase leggings for my daughter," he said.
As if this was not enough, she was asked to remove her top for physical frisking, the parent said.
"My child could not write the examination properly. She was not in a proper frame of mind," he told PTI.
Churidar tops below the knees were cut, long sleeves were chopped, earrings were removed, parents alleged.
The students were not even allowed to wear slippers. As per the norms, only high heels and shoes were not permissible, they said.
Meanwhile, many neighbours came to help the parents.
Many parents had to borrow clothes from the neighbours as shops were not open being a Sunday.
Kannur district Police Chief G Siva Vikaram said a case would be registered if the parents file a complaint.
"So far we have not received any complaints. The Special Branch has been asked to look into the incident," he said.
At another exam centre in the southern state, a student was asked to remove her head scarf.
The issue also had its echo in the state assembly, which is in session, with Education Minister C Raveendranath promising that the government would look into the matter.
However, the education department sources said the state had no role in the conduct of the NEET exam.
All directions on its conduct are being given by CBSE, they said.
Kerala Women's Commission member Premeela Devi said they had not received any complaints from parents to launch proceedings.
Stating that the incidents were "unfortunate", she said such loopholes might have crept in during the implementation of the CBSE rules.
Former Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president V M Sudheeran condemned the incident at Pariyaram and said "the ordeal (of the girl) was cruel and a blot on the state."
Communist Party of India-Marxist MP P K Sreemathi also condemned the incident, saying the authorities would be held responsible if the girl failed to qualify as she had been "mentally harassed."
Neighbouring Tamil Nadu also reported instances of students being asked to remove their head scarves.
The opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in Tamil Nadu said the students had been harassed and humiliated.
"They (candidates) faced so much of harassment and were treated in ways they would feel humiliated... The DMK strongly condemns this. Action should be taken against those responsible for it," DMK working president M K Stalin told reporters.
The DMK, which is opposed to the NEET, recalled its "wholehearted" support to state government bills in the assembly seeking exemption for Tamil Nadu students from the examination.
Over 11 lakh MBBS and BDS aspirants appeared for the NEET at over 1,900 centres across the country on Sunday.