Behind Kerala High Court’s landmark verdict that right to access Internet is a fundamental right has been the fight of an 18-year-old girl and her family.
On Thursday, a single bench of the high court was hearing a petition by Faheema Shirin, a degree student at Sree Narayana College, Chelannur, in Kozhikode district. She had questioned the restriction on the use of mobile phone to access internet at the hostel from 6 pm to 10 pm.
Daughter of photographer Haksar R K, Shirin was the lone girl who decided to walk out of the hostel instead of surrendering her smartphone with hostel authorities in the evening.
“When the new restriction was imposed in June, all other inmates of the girls’ hostel informed the authorities their willingness to abide by it. I was not ready to surrender the right to use mobile phone. Hence, I had no option but to vacate the hostel,’’ said Shirin.
Since leaving the hostel on July 15, Shirin has been travelling 150 km between her home at Vadakara and her college at Chelannur. Shirin said she is not a member of any political party, but “is more interested in parallel Left movement’’.
“It was a collective decision of my family to fight against this restriction. I have been accessing Internet using the mobile phone. Being a student of English literature, a lot of details have to be gathered from the web. Textbooks and traditional libraries are not enough. When readings have become interactive and study materials can be downloaded by scanning QR codes, this restriction has to be fought against,” she said.
An official at the college, run by Sree Narayana Trust of prominent Hindu leader Vellappally Natesan, said a restriction on use of mobile phones at the hostel from 10 pm to 6 am was introduced last year. The ban was lifted in this session, but was reinstituted following a demand from a section of parents — this time from 6 pm to 10 pm, the official said, adding that further action would be taken after they receive the court order.