Santosh Kumar Yadav, a resident of Darbhanga in Bihar, travelled for more than 24 h and changed two buses to cover nearly 700 km to reach Kolkata for his National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET). Unfortunately, he was late by 10 min.
The examinee from Darbhanga was not allowed to enter the examination centre at a school in Salt Lake, a township located to the east of Kolkata.
“I pleaded the authorities but they said I was late. The examination started at 2 PM. I reached the centre around 1.40 pm. The last deadline for entering the centre was 1.30 pm,” Yadav told a local television channel. “I lost a year,” he added.
Incidentally, NEET examinees were asked to report at least three hours in advance in view of the time taken for security and health checks amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Describing his ordeal, the student from Darbhanga said, “I boarded a bus at Darbhanga at 8 AM on 13 September to reach Muzaffarpur. From there I took a bus to Patna but there was a traffic jam on the route and I got delayed by almost six hours.”
“I took another bus from Patna at 9 PM. The bus dropped me near Sealdah station (in Kolkata) at 1.06 PM. A taxi brought me to the examination centre,” said Yadav.
The school authorities could not be contacted but inconvenience faced by NEET examinees became a subject of political debate as many had to shell out huge amount of money to travel from one part of the state to another in hired cars.
“The Supreme Court said that students should get all help to travel and get accommodation. During the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), examinees in West Bengal had to face a lot of difficulty and the chief minister had said 70% of them could not take the test. This government is not at all sympathetic towards students,” said Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president Dilip Ghosh.
The state government did not deny that examinees had to face an uphill task on 13 September.
“We knew that students would face trouble. The metro railway can carry them within Kolkata but what about those from other districts? Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee cancelled the state-wide lockdown on 12 September only to help students travel. But they still faced problems because of the pandemic situation,” said state education minister and Trinamool Congress secretary general Partha Chatterjee.