Bilkis, who became the face of a women-led anti-citizenship law protest at Shaheen Bagh in Delhi, commented on being recognised by the TIME magazine as one of the 100 most influential people of 2020. “Would have been happier had her demand been met,” she said after being informed of this recognition by her son. The law was widely criticised as discriminating on the basis of religion, particularity for excluding Muslims. A large number of women were part of protests across the country.
In what had been one of Delhi’s worst winters, Jan to March 2020, the 82-year-old, along with her two friends Asma Khatoon (90) and Sarwari (75), was at the protest site every day, braving the cold and protesting the controversial law. The trio were hailed as “Dadis of Shaheen Bagh” on social media.
“When we told her that she has been declared as one of the most influential people in the world, she just said ”okay”,” her son Manzoor Ahmad told PTI.
“I am thankful to the almighty. I would have been much happier had our demand been fulfilled…had the government listened to us and given us what we wanted (withdrawal of the Citizenship Amendment Act),” Bilkis said.
“It is sad we had to call it (protest) off because of the disease (COVID-19). I was there till the end,” she said.
Mr Ahmad said all women in his family participated in the protest. “We are a joint family. So, the women took turns to participate in the dharna,” he said.
The Shaheen Bagh protest through last winter saw hundreds of women coming out together pushing the Indian government to withdraw the Citizenship Amendment Law. The protest went on for more than a hundred days. The country saw many cities erupt with their own ‘Shaheen Bagh’ protest spots. It ended in March this year in view of the COVID-19 outbreak and a subsequent lockdown announced by the government to contain the spread of the disease.
Also on the TIME magazine’s list from India along with Bilkis Dadi are Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bollywood actor Ayushman Khurrana.