The government might lift the ban on wearing veils and headscarves during the central medical entrance examination as demanded by Muslim organisations.
Candidates could be allowed to wear a burqa or a hijab during the exam scheduled for May 1 as the CBSE that conducts the All India Pre-Medical Test is likely to revisit the ban imposed last year, sources said.
The ban on long sleeves and veils was introduced — and upheld by the Supreme Court — after the medical entrance test taken by over 600,000 candidates in May last year was cancelled and re-conducted amid reports of cheating with the use of electronic devices and microphones stitched to candidates’ clothes.
The CBSE then issued a notification stating that “the candidates will not bring items like belts, cap, scarf, etc” to the exam hall. It asked candidates to wear light clothes with half sleeves as well as open footwear.
This year, however, the board is planning not to ban veils of religious significance though candidates will still not be allowed to wear scarves or caps.
“The CBSE is conscious not to hurt any religious sentiments. All the efforts we take are to prevent any unfair means,” said a senior official requesting anonymity.
However, the official explained that special measures will be put in place to ensure those wearing a veil are properly frisked.
Educationist and Urdu writer Masoom Moradabadi welcomed the move as a good message to the community.
“This is a very good decision of the board. A few days back a Sikh actor (Waris Ahluwalia) had to face a similar incident in Mexico City when he was asked to remove his turban and he refused as it is part of his religious beliefs. For Muslims, too, the burqa is a symbol of their faith,” Moradabadi said. “We have no objection to girls wearing a burqa being checked thoroughly by women security personnel but a ban is not the solution.” While a final decision on lifting the ban is awaited, the CBSE is geared to prevent a repeat of last year’s cheating episode at the exam — a gateway to prestigious medical colleges in the country.