The brother of a female student from the southern Indian state of Karnataka, who is suing the headscarf ban, has been attacked by an alleged mob of right-wing supporters, according to reports.
Zoya Ahmed* alleged that her 20-year-old brother Saif was assaulted by a mob over her decision to protest the ban on Islamic headscarves in educational institutions.
She is one of the six students who applied to the Karnataka High Court for permission to wear the headscarf in the classroom after it was banned by a pre-university college in the Udupi district.
On Monday night, a mob of alleged Hindutva supporters – those who support the idea of Hindu hegemony in India – threw stones at a restaurant owned by Ahmed Haider Ali’s father in Udupi. Her brother was closing the restaurant when a mob stormed and assaulted him, after an argument over a hijab dispute. The restaurant windows were damaged in the attack.
“My brother was brutally attacked by a mob. Just because I am still defending my hijab which is my right. Also my property was destroyed. Why?? Can’t I claim my right? Who will be their next victim? I demand action against Sangh Parivar idiots,” she tweeted .
Sangh Parivar is an umbrella term for the Hindu nationalist organizations in the country.
On Tuesday, Udupi police arrested Deepak, 25, Manoj, 25, and Sanil Raj, 26, from the local town of Malbi. Deepak allegedly slapped Mr. Saif.
A riot case was registered against the trio, and the police insisted that they were not affiliated with any organization. They were later released on bail after an initial investigation.
According to local media, Mr. Ali had recently expressed his views on the hijab controversy during a conversation with a TV journalist, and a revised version of his statement was uploaded to social media. The mob allegedly went to interrogate Mr. Ali about it but attacked his son because he was not around.
In a subsequent tweet, Ms. Ahmed He appreciated the police’s filing a case, but demanded that “they (the attackers) be held accountable and arrested at any cost immediately.”
Protests against the headscarf ban began last year following a confrontation between authorities and students at a pre-university college in Udupi, in which Muslim students were banned from attending university if they wore a headscarf.
In Karnataka, run by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, veiled Muslim students have since been pursued by large groups of students who wear saffron scarves – a color associated with Hindutva ideology in India.
The Karnataka High Court, through a temporary injunction, has imposed a temporary ban on the wearing of “religious clothing” as it continues to hear the matter. The state government argued that the veil was not a fundamental practice of Islam and that banning it would not violate the right to religious freedom guaranteed under the Indian constitution.
Several Indian states, including the capital, Delhi, have seen people take to the streets to protest such a ban in government-run educational institutions.
In an effort to calm tensions, the state government temporarily closed schools and colleges earlier this month, but they have since reopened. After schools reopened, staff and students were pushed into public humiliation and told to take off their headscarves and burqas outside in the streets.
The controversy gained international attention after celebrities such as Bella Hadid, footballer Paul Pogba and Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai condemned the Indian government’s actions.
* The girl’s name was changed at the request of her lawyer to preserve her identity. A representative image was used in this article for the same reason.
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