Video producer: Smitha TK
Video editor: Puneet Bhatia
The Karnataka High Court’s verdict upholding the Hijab ban is “heartbreaking” and will result in many women losing out on their educational rights, said Aliya Assadi, one of the lead student petitioners.
In an exclusive interview with The Quint, Assadi said she was hopeful till the last minute that the court will rule in the students’ favor.
“When the verdict came out, it was just heartbreaking, we had so much hope and faith in the judicial system that we will get justice and we will be given our constitutional rights,” Assadi said. "It’s not only me, but all the girls who are suffering had hoped that they would be given justice. They were just looking for sunrise but we can see that again we are denied our education and religious rights," she added.
Assadi, 17, was one of the 6 students who were the first victims of the Hijab ban instituted at the Government PU College For Girls in Udupi.
The verdict stated that the Hijab is not a part of essential religious practices of Islam and that the requirement of uniform is a reasonable restriction on the fundamental right to freedom of expression under Article 19(1)(a).
But Assadi contested this.
“The Quran says that a girl should cover her hair and chest and when the Quran says so, it becomes an obligation,” she said. “If it was not essential, many women...millions of women wouldn’t be wearing the hijab,” she added.
"The order they have given is really baseless," she asserted.
'Will Continue The Fight'
Assadi said that despite the feeling of disappointment and heartbreak, she will continue to fight it out.
“India is a democratic and secular country. I still somewhere have some hope that they will provide us justice,” she said. “I think this verdict can be changed. We just have to prove that hijab is an essential part of Islam,” she added.
Asked if Assadi and the other petitioners are now planning to move the Supreme Court against the High Court’s ruling, she said that they are yet to decide. “We are in talks with our lawyers about that. We have yet to reach a decision,” she said.
However, Assadi did add that she is not ready to give up.
"I am not ready to give up. I still want to keep fighting for my rights," she said.
'Ambedkar Would Have Stood By Us'
The Hijab ban has left several hijab-wearing girls across the state unable to access their classrooms, and thus deeply hurt their education.
“We have lost almost 3 months of education. We are not allowed inside classroom. My friends who are science students have missed their final practical exams. They can’t graduate without those. So they have lost that one year,” she said.
Besides education, Assadi said the tumultuous 3 months have also hurt their college life.
“Our college life is ruined. It is the time when people hang out, have fun and chill. But instead we are struggling with basic rights,” she said.
"Our high court also knows that. At least on the basis of that they should have allowed us to wear the hijab inside the classroom, but they are not just taking our religious right away, but also our educational right," she added.
Speaking about the Constitution, Assadi said “it’s the best thing”. “But like Ambedkar said, if the ruling party wants, it can also be misused,” she said.
Assadi added that if freedom fighter Ambedkar was alive today, he would have spoken up for the girls.
“I am sure Ambedkar would have stood by us and spoken up for us and our rights,” she said.