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BOPEE awards ‘difficult area marks’ to 4 candidates not qualifying NEET, aspirants cry foul

In a move that has raised many eyebrows J&K Board of Professional Entrance Examinations has included four candidates, who hadn’t qualified this year’s postgraduate National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET-PG 2018) in its “difficult areas merit list” by controversially adding “difficult areas incentives” to their individual NEET marks which had been below qualifying score.
On 13 March 2018, the BOPEE issued notification (No 015-BOPEE) declaring the merit list of candidates who had been awarded “difficult area marks” which are incentive marks awarded to a candidate for serving in difficult areas. As per National Board of Examinations (NBE), which conducts the NEET, the minimum qualifying/cut off score for general category (unreserved) candidate in this year’s NEET PG were 321 marks and it was 281 marks for reserved category.
As per the BOPEE list, one of the candidates in open merit had secured 255 marks, while three other candidates (category) scored 280, 272 and 269 marks. All the four candidates had thus scored marks lower than the cut off score affixed by the NBE for both categories.
But the analysis of the BOPEE list, which has names and details of 40 candidates, shows that these four candidates, who haven’t secured the qualifying marks in NEET affixed by the NBE, were awarded the incentives that pushed their marks above the qualifying score.
Incentive marks of 10, 20 or 30 percent marks are awarded to a doctor for serving in a difficult area for one, two or three years respectively.The information brochure issued by BOPEE for this year’s admissions clearly states under its “declaration of provisional state merit list” heading that “only such candidates shall be eligible for award of difficult area marks, who have secured the qualifying marks as fixed by the NBE”.
The brochure also states “It shall be necessary for a candidate to obtain at least minimum qualifying marks/score in Entrance Test for Courses as prescribed for different categories under Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Rules and MCI/ DCI Regulations, as amended from time to time.”
Chairman BOPEE Muhammad Ashraf Bukhari, when asked about inclusion of candidates with less than cut off score in the list issued by the board on Wednesday, said that “difficult area was not a category and the line in brochure that mentions about obtaining least minimum qualifying score in NEET to be eligible did not apply to these candidates.”
“Difficult area incentive is no category, but an incentive. The candidates who have not qualified earlier, can qualify for counseling if their marks are above minimum score after adding the incentive marks,” he said.
Asked about the line that states that candidates claiming difficult area incentives must have qualified NEET first to be eligible for incentives, Bukhari said, “That must be a typographical error.”
The BOPEE chairman said that in case there was a contradiction in information brochure, the MCI rules would be the final determination. He said that “MCI rules allowed those candidates who had not qualified NEET but worked in difficult areas to participate in counseling, if after adding the incentive marks, their NEET score was above the qualifying score fixed by NBE”.
The BOPEE issued a corrigendum that notified the “aforementioned in para 19” that “only such candidates shall be eligible for award of difficult area marks who have secured the qualifying marks as fixed by the NBE” “shall always be deemed to have been deleted ab initio”.
The MCI joint secretary (PG) Dr Rajendra Wabale rebutted the chairman BOPPE saying the incentives can’t be given to a candidate for qualifying NEET. “The candidate needs to qualify the NEET first. The incentives are for maintaining the merit. Incentives cannot be used for passing NEET,” he said.
He said that a candidate claiming incentive has to first clear the bar of 50, 45 or 40 percentile, depending on the category, and as fixed by NBE. “Then only can incentives be claimed,” he said.

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