Thousands of people participated in last year’s widespread protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in New Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh.
‘Shaheen Bagh’s dadi’
Three feisty grandmothers, known as the ‘dadis of Shaheen Bagh’ — Bilkis Bano, 82, Asma Khatoon, 90, and Sarwar, 75 — also took part in these demonstrations surrounded by young women with prayer beads in one hand and the national flag in the other.
Bilkis, was recognised as one of the 100 most influential people of 2020 by the Time magazine, on Thursday, September 24.
While she is happy about the praises garnered, she also congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has now featured four times in the magazine’s influential personalities’s list.
The list also includes actor Ayushmann Khurrana and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
Bilkis’s struggle at Shaheen Bagh
Manzoor Ahmad, Bilkis’s son refers to his mother’s struggle and zeal towards the anti-citizenship policy while he brings up that even though she was ill and was running a fever during the chilly winter in December 2019, she never stopped supporting and visiting the women at the protest site.
He included that they were a joint family and all the women in his family participated in the protest supporting one another and participated in the dharna.
He considered his mother’s popularity in the list as a thrill to him but not much of an excitement to his mother.
“When we told her that she has been declared as one of the most influential people in the world, she just said ‘okay’,” said Ahmad. She was surely grateful and honoured to be featured in one of the most promising networks, but surely was left in disappointment for her request to be undermined.
Story of Shaheen Bagh
On December 15, 2019, a strong group of 50 women had occupied a road at Shaheen Bagh, urging for the abolition of the Citizenship Amendment Act. There were not many women at the beginning but the numbers gradually increased as more protesters joined defending themselves from the police department.
Not only in Delhi but the protest spread alongside many other states all over the country. Bilkis played a very vital role in this protest as she showed bravery and commitment during her hard times to never give up which gave faith to many other women.
Bilkis told a news agency: “I am very happy that I have been honoured with such respect. Although I did not expect this, who knows whom God gives recognition?”
“I have only read the Quran and never went to school. But today I am happy, congratulations to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too. He is also my son. I did not give him birth but that does not matter. God bless him with a long life and always give him happiness,” added Bilkis.
“Our fight first is with corona, the disease must be eliminated from the world only then something can be thought of the world after that,” the 82-year-old added.
Symbol of hope
Rana Ayyub, a journalist wrote in a recent article that Bilkis, along with more than a thousand other women, became the symbol of resistance in a country where the voices of women and minorities were being orderly drowned by the Narendra Modi government.
“Bilkis gave hope and strength to activists and student leaders who were being thrown behind bars for standing up for the unpopular truth in a democracy that was sliding into authoritarianism, and inspired peaceful copycat protests across the country,”, the article said.