In the first major examination conducted after August-2019, over 20,000 candidates appeared for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET)-2020 at 60 centres in Kashmir on Sunday, 13 September.
The entrance exam was held in the Valley under tight security arrangements. The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has established the National Testing Agency (NTA) as an independent autonomous and self-sustained premier testing organisation for conducting efficient, transparent and international standard tests in order to assess the competency of candidates for admission to premier higher education institutions.
The NTA conducted NEET (UG)-2020 at 3,843 centres on Sunday for admission to MBBS, BDS and other undergraduate medical courses for recognized institutes across India. Officials said that over 15,93,452 candidates had registered for NEET (UG)-2020 and over 90 percent are believed to have appeared in the test. The entrance test was conducted to fill up 76,928 MBBS seats and 2,699 BDS seats besides 52,720 Ayush, 525 BVSc, 1,205 AIIMS and 200 JIPMER MBBS seats.
This year NEET has been made mandatory for the admission process of AIIMS and JIPMER, which increased applicant numbers appearing for the examination. The institutes which conducted an individual entrance exam will no longer conduct an individual examination. Because of this reason there was a rise of 4.87 per cent or 74,083 candidates over the candidates registered for NEET (UG)-2019. Section 14 of the National Medical Commission Act, 2019, provides for holding of a common and uniform National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to the undergraduate medical courses in all medical institutions including those governed under any other law.
Thus, the admission to MBBS course in AIIMS, New Delhi, JIPMER and all AIIMS-like institutions is being made through NEET. The eligibility criteria applicable to appearing in NEET (UG) shall also be applicable to the candidates interested in admission to INIs like AIIMS. The responsibility of the NTA is limited to the conduct of the entrance examination, declaration of result and for providing an “All India Rank Merit List” to the Directorate General Health Service, Government of India, for the conduct of counselling for 15% All India Quota seats and for providing the result to States and other counselling authorities.
Notwithstanding disruption of internet services and freeze on the high-speed 4G after August 2019, as many as 33,357 candidates had registered for current year’s NEET from Jammu and Kashmir. Officials said that around 26,595 candidates had registered from J&K last year. As a special case, authorities had permitted offline applications from J&K this year even as over 60 internet kiosks had been set up at the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Srinagar, Tourist Reception Centre Srinagar and all the nine rural district headquarters in Kashmir.
In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with the situation created by scrapping of Article 370 and 35-A in August 2019, the authorities in Kashmir had decided to hold the exam for candidates of all the ten districts in the valley at 57 centres in Srinagar. Three more centres had been set up in the adjoining Budgam and Ganderbal districts in Central Kashmir. Previously, only 12 to 15 centres had been set up in Srinagar.
Officials said that 20,137 candidates had registered in Srinagar. Of them, 18,689 appeared in the exam on Sunday. They said that with the addition of numbers from Budgam and Ganderbal, the total number of the candidates who wrote the exam could be well over 20,000. Srinagar Deputy Commissioner Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, who visited most of the centres and monitored the arrangements, said that 40 executive magistrates and nodal officers had been deployed to ensure smooth conduct of the exam.
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) in Srinagar, Dr Haseeb Mughal, said that it was the “biggest challenge” for the Police to conduct such a hugely attended examination in Srinagar, for the first time after August 2019. He was relieved that the examination was conducted smoothly and peacefully and no untoward incident was reported from anywhere. He said that 276 Police officers and 3,552 Police officials had been deployed in Srinagar alone. This deployment included components from Central Armed Police Forces. “This was a big challenge for the Police to ensure secure and smooth movement of staff and the students and their parents and family members from across the valley.
The presence of deployments was made demonstrative so as to give everyone a sense of complete security”, SSP Srinagar asserted. “The safety and security of the examination centres was given a special focus and even night deployments were made around all such centres including those set up deep in vulnerable areas of the city”. SSP said that quite a number of the exam centres had been set up in the hyper-sensitive areas like Lal Bazar, Nageen, Soura and Nawpora in downtown Srinagar.
“Braving Covid-19 challenges on ground, officers and jawans of Police and CAPF made it possible because of their commitment to purpose”, he said. Station House Officers (SHOs) with sandbag or bulletproof bunkers and door metal detectors were present outside each and every centre in Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal. Executive Police, Traffic Police and Security Wing of the Jammu and Kashmir Police had made elaborate security and traffic arrangements at all centres as NTA had emphasised that no vehicles be permitted into any centre.
Consequently, parking lots had to be arranged at each centre. “It was a crowd of around 60,000 people as each candidate was accompanied by an average of two friends or family members. We had to arrange for parking of 20,000 additional vehicles. Thank God, our jawans and officers did it successfully”, SSP Srinagar said. He added that NEET-2020 in fact broke the ice after a long time as holding other examinations, academic and commercial activities had now become possible in Kashmir..