Bilkis Bano was among scores of other women who braved the chilling cold of January from 8 in the morning to midnight to protests the new citizenship act.
- Last Updated: September 23, 2020, 2:19 PM IST
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The octogenarian Bilkis is one of the five Indians who made it to the list of 100 most influential people for the year 2020 in the Time magazine. Bilkis Bano was among several other elderly women of Shaheen Bagh, who came to be known as Dadis of Shaheen Bagh as they emerged as a strong voice of the anti- Citizenship Amendment Act protests. The protests began in December after the police attacked and assaulted the students of Jamia Millia Islamia following anti-CAA protests.
Shaheen Bagh, a small neigbourhood in Delhi’s Muslim majority Jamia Nagar, became synonymous with the anti-CAA protests and similar models of protest were adapted in other towns and cities across the country.
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Bilkis Bano was among hundreds of other women who braved the chilling cold of January from 8 in the morning to midnight to protests the controversial act. “Bilkis, along with thousands of women who joined her in Shaheen Bagh, a neighborhood in New Delhi, became the symbol of resistance in a nation where the voices of women and minorities were being systematically drowned out by the majoritarian politics of the Modi regime,” writes journalist Rana Ayub in her note in Times on the 82-year-old daadi of Shaheen Bagh.
“I will sit here till blood stops flowing in my veins so the children of this country and the world breathe the air of justice and equality,” Ayub recalls Bilkis telling her. She further writes that Bilkis gave ‘hope and strength to activists and student leaders’ as the government launched a crackdown against those protesting the new citizenship act.
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The fact that women spearheaded the protests in Shaheen Bagh proved to be a blow to many stereotypes around the Muslim women. “The active participation of Muslim women in the anti-CAA protests was the defining feature of this movement. It shattered many stereotypes about Muslim women. It put paid to the pervasive belief that the average Indian Muslim woman is an uneducated and burqa-clad figure who has no voice and is suffering under patriarchal oppression,” said Professor Zoya Hasan is Professor Emerita of the Jawaharlal Nehru University in an interview with News18. Hasan has worked extensively on the socio-economic status of Muslim women.
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Hasan further said the remarkable thing about the protest led by women was that Muslim women were fashioning and responding to challenges as they went along through their struggles.
The Shaheen Bagh protest went on for 101 days before it was cleared by the Delhi Police on March 24 i view of coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions to curb the spread. However, before the curbs, the protesters had tweaked the protest in compliance with the pandemic guidelines. Protesters were asked not to sit at the site beyond four hours, while elderly people and children were barred from the site.