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Security Lapses At NEET 2024 Exam Centers: CCTVs Missing, Strong-Rooms Unprotected

National Testing Agency (NTA), which conducts NEET-UG and is under scrutiny for alleged paper leaks and irregularities, received official notification of the third-party review findings on June 16, almost 12 days after announcing the exam results.
06:44 AM Jun 21, 2024 IST | simran rajpal
security lapses at neet 2024 exam centers  cctvs missing  strong rooms unprotected

A review of this year's NEET undergraduate exam found several issues at exam centers on May 5. These problems included missing the required two working CCTVs in exam rooms and leaving strong rooms, where question papers are stored, unguarded.

Sources said the National Testing Agency (NTA), responsible for conducting NEET-UG and currently facing allegations of paper leaks and other irregularities, was officially informed of the third-party review findings on June 16, nearly 12 days after the exam results were announced.

For the review, the third party visited 399 exam centers out of around 4,000. These centers were chosen through mutual agreement between the NTA and the reviewers.

The review conducted on exam day found that out of the 399 exam centers visited, 186 (46%) did not have the required two working CCTV cameras in each exam room. These cameras are supposed to transmit live feed to the Central Control Room at the NTA headquarters in New Delhi, where a team of experts monitors it.

Additionally, at 68 (16%) of the 399 exam centers reviewed, the strong room was not "secured by a guard." The rule requires the strong room to be guarded until the question papers are distributed.

Also, at 83 centers, the biometric staff differed from the designated staff assigned to those centers.

The review aims to identify any non-compliance with guidelines or any apparent malpractices at the exam centers on the day of the exam.

For the review, the third-party observer used a detailed checklist to verify various aspects: physical controls at exam centers (working jammers covering all required rooms, physical security, access to the exam center, movement within the center, and proper frisking); seating arrangements matching the allotted seats; and the presence of the required number of invigilators and CCTV staff, among other criteria.

When selecting a school or any location as an exam center for NEET-UG, the NTA considers various factors. These include infrastructure standards, vulnerability to potential malpractices, candidate seating capacity, accessibility, clean facilities, and essential life-safety equipment.

The NTA faced significant criticism due to issues with the NEET-UG results announced on June 4, the same day as the Lok Sabha election results.

First, an unusually large number of candidates (67) scored a perfect 720/720, and some got 718 or 719, which some claimed was not possible under the exam's structure. The NTA explained this by citing a relatively easier paper, extra marks given to students who lost time due to NTA staff and invigilator errors, and an incorrect question.

The NTA also faces allegations of a question paper leak in Bihar, with state police arresting 13 people. Of those arrested, four are NEET candidates, while the rest are their parents and members of a gang. This gang allegedly gathered 35 candidates at a school under Ramakrishna Nagar police station before the exam to conduct a mock test and provided them with the NEET question paper and answers.

Additionally, two exam centers in Godhra, Gujarat, are under investigation by state police for allegedly helping candidates fill in the correct answers on their OMR sheets.

Also Read: NEET Row: Engineer Alleges ‘Mantri Ji’ Connection, Calls It Attempted Paper Leak

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