Reporter: Nikhila Henry
Video Editor: Rajbir Singh
In Karnataka's Udupi, where the first protests for hijab arose in December 2021, Muslims students are tired of fighting for their right to wear hijab. It was in Government PU College for Girls, Udupi that six women students first demanded that they be allowed to wear hijab in classrooms.
Their demand was not met even as Hindu students of nearby colleges, started demanding a ban on hijab-wearing in educational institutions. The 'saffron shawl' protests soon spread to other colleges in Karnataka and several Muslim students who used to wear headscarf in colleges were disallowed from wearing the same.
Amid the standoff between hijab-wearing students and saffron shawl protestors, four Muslim students – Tehrin Begum, Ayesha Shaheen, Ayesha Assadi and Hazra Shifa – of two different colleges in Udupi district, tell The Quint, what they have lost during protests for their rights.
'Lost Mental Peace, Non-Muslim Friends'
A state government order issued on 5 February banned all clothing that affects "public order" in classrooms. On 10 February, the Karnataka High Court passed an interim order which banned all religious clothing in educational institutions.
“First thing I lost is my mental peace. There is no peace. We are mentally harassed and tortured. I lost many non-Muslim friends, because of this issue. I don’t know who made them oppose us. I hope this will not last for long. I hope they will understand that we are not making it communal. We are not the ones differentiating between us,” Aliya Assadi, student of Government PU College for Girl, Udupi. Assadi is one among the six students who had first demanded that the college allow her to wear headscarf.
Hazra Shifa, a student who has been fighting for hijab alongside Assadi said, "My non-Muslim friends, I lost them. They started hating us a lot. I want to concentrate at least at my home. But I am not able to concentrate even in my home. Whenever I sit to study all these come to my mind. I lost my education. I want to be good and I should also earn something."
The students said that they are being denied education even as the final year examinations are scheduled to be held in April, 2022.
"I should make my parents proud. I want my rights back. When the government of Karnataka and the courts are giving us more rights, I don't know why our college is not allowing us inside. How the bindi is beauty and pride to a Hindu sisters same way hijab is bueaty and pride of muslim sisters. I just want to say this," Shifa said.
'Education, a Struggle'
In Government PU College, Kundapur students who have been wearing hijab to classes for years were suddenly asked to remove the headscarf.
“This is our fundamental right. For 29 years our seniors and parents have been wearing hijab in colleges. At home too, throughout the day, we were hijab. Suddenly, how can we remove hijab and sit in front of (unrelated) boys?” Tehrin Begum, a student, Government PU College, Kundapur, said.
Begum and her cousin, Ayesha Shaheen had opted for the government college as the did not have the means to attend private colleges. The hijab ban has brought their dreams to a halt, they said.
“I want to do an MBA. This is my sister. She also goes to the college. She said teaching is good there. I want to do MBA and become something,” Ayesha Shaheen, Student, Government PU College Kundapura