The Medical College Admission Tests 2020 will begin across Pakistan on November 15. Hindu students across the country have, however, demanded that the test date be changed as it is clashing with Diwali.
Hundreds of students appear for the MCAT every year for admissions into MBBS and BDS programmes at Pakistani universities. The test is a mandatory requirement for getting into all public and private medical varsities in the country.
This year's test dates clash with Diwali, which will be celebrated on November 14, 15 and 16.
The issue was brought up by Hindu civil rights activist Kapil Dev on Twitter. "If you don't schedule exams on your Eid, how come you schedule it on Diwali? Why don't you look at calendar first?" he said.
If you don't schedule exams on your Eid, how come you schedule it on Diwali. Why don't u look at calendar first? Despite concern raised by #Hindu students, Pakistan Medical Council is not extending date for MCAT. The test is scheduled for 15th Nov, while Deewali ia on 14&15 Nov. pic.twitter.com/sSbCxjJk0h— Kapil Dev (@KDSindhi) November 3, 2020
Despite expressing their reservations to the authorities, the examination date remain the same, Dev pointed out. He told SAMAA Digital that Parliamentary Secretary for Human Rights Lal Chand Malhi also expressed his concern on the matter.
"Every year over 4,000 to 5,000 Hindu students sit for the MCAT exams. This year as well a huge number of students will give the test," Dev said, adding that this has happened before as well. "Last year, the exam date was changed after the intervention of the provincial government."
Jaint Karmani, a student at Karachi's Delhi Government College, is also disappointed over the development. "The government always sets the dates taking into account Islamic holidays, then why do we alone have to face this discrimination?" he asked.
Karmani said that the dates of Diwali are already set in the calendar at the start of the year. "Our festival lasts for three days and is starting from November 14. The next day we have our exam at 8am."
Pakistan Medical Commission Vice-President Ali Raza said the dates will not be changed.
"Even Muslim students give A-level exams on Eid," he told SAMAA Digital. "We have informed the court about the dates as well. The examination centres are ready and admit cards have been distributed," Raza added.