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Woman Asked To Remove Toe Ring At Exam Hall, Writes To Maneka Gandhi

New Delhi:  Union minister Maneka Gandhi has asked the Human Resource Development ministry to look into a complaint by a woman who was asked to remove all her jewellery – including a toe ring that symbolised her marital status – before she was allowed to sit for an examination for government jobs.

In a letter to Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi, a Delhi resident said she was made to remove her toe ring, worn by married women, bangles and even her ‘bindi’ before she could appear for the Delhi Subordinate Services Selection Board examination in the national capital on June 25.

“Officers there asked me to break my bangles if required if I wanted to enter the school premises,” she wrote.

She was forced to keep all her items outside the school where the examination was being held, she wrote in her June 27 letter, a copy of which is with PTI.

Ms Gandhi, outraged at what she said was a “bizarre case”, has now written a letter to Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar, asking him to draw up “standard operating procedures” to deal with such cases.

“Before the school board exams were conducted this year, apparently very strict instructions were issued regarding prevention of cheating during the exams. A large number of students were put to harassment which included body search and stripping in certain incidents,” Ms Gandhi said in her letter.

Though she agreed that some students used high-tech gadgets to cheat, “the anti-cheating protocols deployed should not result in harassment”, Ms Gandhi contended.

In May this year, a woman who had appeared for the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to medical courses was asked to remove her bra by the frisking staff at an examination centre in Kovappuram in Kerala before being allowed to sit for the test.

In another case in March, officials allegedly strip-searched women students appearing for a matriculation examination at a school in Patna.

Ms Gandhi also wrote in her letter to Mr Javadekar that the candidate found her jewellery missing after the exam.

When her officials contacted the school authorities, they said metallic objects were not allowed inside the examination hall, which was why the candidate was asked to remove her jewellery.

“It is the responsibility of the school to ensure that they do not put the students/candidates to any harassment on account of their own interpretation of the instructions issued to prevent cheating,” she said in her letter.

“Therefore I request you to have suitable instructions issued to the schools which are used as centres for examinations to have standard operating procedures to prevent such cases,” she added.

For the woman, the harassment continued after she returned home, with her in-laws blaming her for the episode.

“They put the blame on me and my parent also had to listen to their harsh words,” the woman said.