Aliya Assadi has been getting abusive phone calls through the day on Wednesday, 9 February. The 17-year-old realised a few hours into the day that her personal details – including phone numbers, parents’ names, and home address – were shared on Whatsapp groups buzzing in Udupi, Karnataka.
Assadi is one among the six Muslim students of Udupi’s Government Pre-University College for Girls, who have been at the forefront of the protests to continue wearing the hijab in Karnataka's educational institutions.
On Wednesday, the admission forms of all the six students were leaked from the pre-university college. The Quint has accessed the online message which identified the girls by their names and photographs.
The message, a pdf document, had scanned copies of admission forms from the college’s ledger, indicating that the leak came from within the institution.
The chairman of the College's Development Committee (CDC) is Udupi’s BJP MLA Raghupathi Bhat, who has been maintaining since December 2021 that Muslim students in hijab are not allowed inside classrooms. The admission documents were submitted only to the college, the Muslim students clarified to The Quint.
‘Will Our Homes Be Targeted?’
When The Quint spoke to Aliya Assadi, she was wearing a burqa, unlike the many times she had addressed the media in hijab.
“I am not comfortable showing my face anymore. Already everyone knows how I look and where my home is. What if someone targets me?” she asked.
Hazra Shifa, another student of the same college who has been fighting for her right to keep wearing the hijab, said, “Even my parents are receiving calls from unknown numbers. I have asked them not to attend calls.” The students demanded the college management to explain how confidential details reached the public.
Assadi said, “I love snakes hence I want to be a wildlife photographer. Now I think no one cares about my ambition. Why else will they target us so much?” She accused the BJP MLA Raghupathi Bhat of giving a free hand to the college authorities and to the students sporting saffron shawls.
“He made our fight for hijab communal in nature, by supporting the saffron scarf protests. He instigated the students to wear saffron shawls. And now he has made, not just the college, but also our homes unsafe,” Assadi accused.
Shifa said she wants to be a doctor, or even a radiologist. “I want this to end. I want to just study and become someone in life,” she said.
When The Quint reached out to the college authorities, they refused to comment on the leaked data.
Mark Sheets & Information on Parents’ Income Used to Discredit Muslim Girl Students
The document which is currently doing the rounds also has the copies of the mark sheets of the protesting students.
While all of them had secured over 60 percent marks in their Class X board examination, they are now being targeted for being poor performers, said Assadi. “They are circulating a fake assessment that we have fared poorly in Class X. Why are they not worried about us losing classroom learning now?” Assadi asked. Pre-University examinations are expected to be held in April this year.
“We are not allowed into our class even though the examination is scheduled to be held within two months,” Shifa said.
On Wednesday, Karnataka High Court referred the hijab case, that is based on a writ petition filed by Resham, one of Udupi’s protesting Muslim students, to a larger bench.
Meanwhile, contrary to claims, The Quint found that some of the students had secured high scores in their Class X. For example, Muskan Zainab had secured 87.52 percent in Class X. Resham had 80 percent in social science and 67.52 percent overall. Aliya Assadi scored 83 percent in social science and 66.72 percent overall.
The document also had details of the students’ parental incomes.
“My father is an auto driver. First they blamed me for being affluent. Now they say that I am poor and am a troublemaker,” Assadi said. Students whose parental incomes were less than Rs 1 lakh per annum were targeted specifically in Whatsapp forwards. “They call us paid girls. We are doing this for our faith nor for money,” said Shifa.
Long List of Losses
The students said that the hate campaign has disturbed them mentally. Over the last few days, they have lost a lot while fighting for their right to wear the hijab, they said.
“The first thing I lost was my mental peace. We are mentally harassed and tortured…I lost time, giving a lot of media bites. I am also nervous. It has been really tough,” said Assadi. The student says she has been weighing her words every time she speaks publicly, to avoid further controversy. But with the data leak from college, her life has become even tougher.
She has lost her friends in the process. “I lost many of my non-Muslim friends because of this issue. I do not know who made them oppose us. But I hope this will not last for long,” Assadi said.
Shifa said, “My non-Muslim friends have started hating us.” Whenever she tries to study, she finds it difficult to concentrate, she added.
In the fight for hijab, perhaps, losing peace at home has been the worst of losses that the students have endured. “I have lost a lot. But I want to make my parents proud. I have a lot of ambitions,” said Shifa.