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Protesting Girls’ Info Shared, Parents Lodge Complaint

The Karnataka High Court is hearing a petition by five girls on the hijab controversy (File)

New Delhi:
Personal details, including phone numbers, of the six students from Karnataka’s Udupi district, who are fighting for the right to wear a hijab during classes, have been leaked online in a shocking breach of privacy. A police case has been filed.

Here are the top 10 points in this big story:

  1. Worried parents fear the leaked data could be used to threaten their children. These concerns come amid disturbing scenes that have emerged this week of frenzied mobs shouting and waving saffron scarves and flags as they confront young Muslim girls in colleges across several districts.

  2. The Police Superintendent of Udupi district, N Vishnuvardhan, has confirmed that a written complaint has been made. ‘Appropriate action will be taken’ once documentary evidence of the leaked information is available, he was quoted by news agency PTI.

  3. The students whose info was leaked are believed to be the same who first protested being denied the right to wear the hijab in class. Since then protests have spread, triggering pushback from right-wing groups and a political row with communal overtones.

  4. The Karnataka High Court, approached by some of the students, began hearing the matter this week and, pending a final order, said (in a contentious note) that schools and colleges in the state – closed over fear of violence – could reopen but no religious clothing would be allowed. The matter will continue to be heard on Monday.

  5. In its interim order the court said: “Pending consideration of all petitions, we restrain all students, regardless of their religion or faith, from wearing saffron shawls, scarves, hijab, religious flags or the like, within the classroom, until further orders. ..”

  6. The order was challenged in the Supreme Court – on grounds it violated students’ constitutional rights – on Friday but to no avail; Chief Justice NV Ramana refused an urgent hearing, saying: “We will interfere only at an appropriate time.” The Chief Justice was unmoved despite being told the case had “far-reaching implications”.

  7. The top court has already refused to hear one petition on the matter; Fatima Bushra, a student, sought to challenge a state order last week that banned clothes which it said “disturb equality, integrity and public order”. The Chief Justice declined to hear the matter, pointing out that a three-member High Court bench was currently doing so.

  8. As legal questions and those of fundamental rights are debated, right-wing groups protesting the request to wear hijabs have become active, with visuals of frenzied mobs waving saffron flags and scarves, and shouting ‘Jai Shri Ram‘, doing the rounds online.

  9. On Tuesday the situation escalated at a college in Mandya district after male students heckled a Muslim girl, shouting ‘Jai Shri Ram‘. She shouted ‘Allah hu Akbar’ at the agressors. A day earlier, two men were arrested in Kundapur for carrying weapons near protesting students. Violence at one college also prompted police to fire teargas.

  10. Karnataka’s BJP government has been largely silent – Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has issued calls for peace – as it waits for the court’s decision. But the protests have sparked support, including from international figures like Manchester United footballer Paul Pogba and Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai.

With input from PTI

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