The phone numbers of the six Muslim students, who have been protesting for their right to wear hijabs in their college in Karnataka’s Udupi district, have been shared on social media, their parents have alleged in a police complaint, according to PTI.
The six students of the Government Women’s Pre-University College started the protest last month after they were not allowed to attend classes for being dressed in hijab. On February 5, the Karnataka government passed an order banning clothes that “disturb equality, integrity and public order”.
Udupi Superintendent of Police N Vishnuvardhan confirmed that the complaint has been filed, PTI reported. He said that action will be taken once evidence of the alleged leaked information is available.
In their complaint, the parents have expressed fear that the details might be used to threaten the students. The police have not yet identified the people who allegedly leaked the phone numbers.
However, on Wednesday, The Quint had accessed online messages that comprised scanned copies of the college’s admission ledger with contact details of the students.
The students told the news website that they had submitted the documents to the college during their admission. Notably, Udupi MLA and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Raghupathi Bhat is the chairman of the College Development Committee, according to The Quint. Since December, Bhat has maintained that hijabs were not allowed inside classrooms.
Aliya Assadi, one of the six students, told The Quint she had been getting abusive phone calls since Wednesday, and later came to know that her contact details, including phone number, parents’ names and address have been shared on WhatsApp.
“I am not comfortable showing my face anymore,” Assadi said. “Already everyone knows how I look and where my home is. What if someone targets me?”
Harza Shifa, another student who has been protesting for her right to wear hijab, also said that her parents had received phone calls from unknown numbers, according to The Quint.
Divulging personal details of the girls puts them in imminent danger as over the past few days, Hindu students and mobs of men have been protesting against women wearing hijab in educational institutions in Karnataka.
Since June last year, there have also been at least three incidents of Hindutva supremacists putting up Muslim women for “online auction” and making derogatory comments on social media platforms. Feminist activists and democratic rights groups have pointed out that the hijab ban and online abuse of Muslim women are part of a trend to target them.
Human rights activists condemn hijab ban
In a statement released on Friday, human rights group Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy said that the Karnataka government’s ban on hijab in educational institutions shows “capitulation to divisive politics”.
More than 150 signatories to the statement noted that the matter of whether to allow hijab should have been resolved between the protesting students and administrations of the colleges.
“But virtually overnight the dispute has been converted into a Hindu vs Muslim conflict by the saffron scarves-clad pro-Hindutva boys taking to the streets,” the statement said. “College campuses have thus been transformed into yet another playing field for the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] and other right-wing Hindu majoritarians.”
The signatories, however, expressed disagreement with the claim of the protesting Muslim students that their demands were protected by the freedom of religion guaranteed by the Constitution.
“While this may be the belief of the orthodox and patriarchal clerics, any number of modern-day Islamic scholars, men and women, rightly maintain that hijab has nothing to do with the teachings of the Quran and the Prophet,” the statement noted. “The veil, in other words, is not mandatory in Islam.”