A resident of Darbhanga in Bihar, Santosh Kumar Yadav travelled for over 24 hours to cover 700 km to reach Kolkata for his National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), only to be late by 10 minutes and miss the exam.
Yadav was not allowed to enter the examination centre set up in Kolkata's Salt Lake.
"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.
NEET examinees were incidentally directed to report to the centre at least three hours in advance, due to the required security and health checks amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Hindustan Times reported.
"I boarded a bus at Darbhanga at 8 am on Saturday 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," Yadav said.
"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," he added
Several NEET examinees expressed how they have faced several inconveniences like shelling out huge amounts of money to travel from one part of the state to another in hired cars. These inconveniences prompted political debates.
"The Supreme Court (while dismissing a petition for delaying NEET and JEE) 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 difficulties and the chief minister had said 70 per cent 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, however, accepted that the examinees had to face a tough time on Sunday.
"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 Saturday only to help students travel. But they still faced problems because of the pandemic situation," said state education minister and Trinamool Congress Secretary Partha Chatterjee.