NEW DLEHI (Web Desk) – Hundreds of young men in India’s Bihar state were made to strip down to their underwear while appearing for an army recruitment test in an attempt to prevent cheating.
Photographs showed candidates sitting cross-legged in a field in Muzaffarpur town wearing only their underpants, with many resting their test papers on their thighs, while a uniformed supervisor stood guard.
The army said it was done to “save time on checking so many students”.
Reacting to the bizarre images splashed across the media, the defence ministry has asked Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhaag to explain.
A candidate told The Indian Express newspaper that he felt “it was not dignified”.
Officials said 1,159 candidates participated in Sunday’s hour-long written examination to join the Indian army.
“As we entered Chakkar Maidan, the venue, we were asked to remove all clothes except underwear. We had no option but to comply with the instructions even though it felt odd. The gap between candidates was about eight feet in all directions,” The Indian Express quoted a candidate as saying.
The paper quoted a senior army official as saying candidates being asked to strip was an “administrative lapse”.
Bihar and many other parts of northern India are notorious for cheating during examinations – last year, the state government was embarrassed after parents and friends were photographed climbing school walls to pass on answers to school students.
Using methods ranging from old-fashioned crib sheets to high-tech spy cameras, cheating is common in India, mostly to secure good school grades and highly-sought government jobs.
In January, the state announced tough measures such as fines and jail terms to stop cheating in exams.