As the row over wearing hijabs to educational institutes escalated in Karnataka, a video showing a girl wearing a burqa, standing up to a mob of saffron-clad boys chanting 'Jai Shri Ram', has gone viral on social media.
The clip of the incident, which took place at the PES College in Karnataka's Mandya, shows the Muslim student being heckled by a large crowd of boys wearing identical saffron scarves, chanting 'Jai Shri Ram' in unison and advancing towards her as she arrives at the institute.
Raising her fist to mark her defiance, the student, who has been identified as Muskan, shouts 'Allahu Akbar' thrice as she faces the sloganeering. She is then escorted into the college building by the institute's staff.
While the girl's bravery has been applauded on Twitter and otherwise, Karnataka Primary & Secondary Education Minister BC Nagesh was quoted as saying by news agency ANI, "The students didn't want to gherao the girl who was coming outside the college in Mandya. No other student was around her when she shouted "Allah-hu-Akbar". Was she provoked? Can't encourage "Allah hu Akbar' or 'Jai Shri Ram' on campus."
'They Are Ruining Our Education': Muskan
The second-year BCom student, in an interview with The Indian Express after the incident, said that after she reached her class, she received full support from the principal of the college.
"In our college, we are allowed to wear the burqa till we reach class, but after that, we can wear the hijab. Nobody in this college had a problem with our dress, but the whole controversy was started by a bunch of outsiders a couple of days ago," she told IE.
Further, Muskan said that she knew about 10 percent of the chanters as students from the college, while the rest seemed like outsiders.
"They started shouting Jai Shri Ram. So I started screaming Allah hu Akbar. The principal and lecturers supported me and protected me," she told NDTV, adding, "Our priority is our education. They are ruining our education."
Clashes broke out in Karnataka on Tuesday, as students protesting against the denial of entry into colleges for girls wearing hijab were met with opposition from saffron-clad protesters, who were demonstrating against the wearing of hijab in classrooms. The matter is sub judice in the Karnataka High Court.
'Salute Her Bravery': AIMIM Chief Owaisi
All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) Chief and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi praised the girl, calling her retaliation a brave reaction.
On Wednesday, Owaisi tweeted that he spoke to Muskan and her family over the phone.
“Spoke to Muskan & her family on call. Prayed for her to remain steadfast in her commitment to education while also exercising her freedom of religion & choice. I conveyed that her act of fearlessness has become a source of courage for us all,” Owaisi tweeted.
Earlier, too, Owaisi had applauded the bravery of the student from PES College.
“I salute this daughter for her bravery. I salute the parents of this daughter who brought her up to be a brave woman. The woman stared at the men and shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ thrice and this wasn’t easy. This is the example that we have to set. If you bend today then you will have to bend forever," he was quoted as saying by The News Minute.
Islamic scholars' organisation Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind has announced a Rs 5 lakh reward for the student for her bravery.