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Monday, October 26, 2020

Explained: Who is Bilkis, the Shaheen Bagh dadi in TIME’s list of most influential people of 2020?

TIME's 100 most influential people 2020: In January, Bilkis had told The Indian Express from Shaheen Bagh, "We are old and we are not doing this for ourselves... This is for our children."

Written by Somya Lakhani , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: September 27, 2020 12:18:58 pm
bilkis, shaheen bagh bilkis bilkis dadi, bilkis shaheen bagh dadi, time most influential 2020, time most influential people list 2020, time most influential people 2020, shaheeb bagh dadi, times most influential people, times 2020 listBilkis (right) at Shaheen Bagh on January 14, 2020. (Express Photo: Somya Lakhani)

Even as Delhi braved its coldest winter in over a century, 82-year-old Bilkis — with a smile on her face and a shawl around her shoulders — sat with hundreds of women under a canopied tent at the national capital’s Shaheen Bagh anti-CAA/NRC sit-in protest for over three months. Within days, Bilkis and the other elderly women who participated in the protest became the symbol of resistance and hope, and came to be fondly known as the “Dadis of Shaheen Bagh.”

TIME magazine has now included Bilkis in its list of “The 100 Most Influential People of 2020.”

Journalist and author Rana Ayyub, who has penned the piece for TIME magazine, says, “Bilkis became the voice of the marginalised… 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.”

The Shaheen Bagh protest went on for 101 days and was cleared by the Delhi Police on March 24 in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

bilkis, shaheen bagh bilkis, time most influential 2020, time most influential people list 2020, time most influential people 2020, shaheeb bagh dadi, times most influential people, times 2020 list Graffiti of the ‘dadis’ of Shaheen Bagh. (Express Photo)

In January, as the Shaheen Bagh sit-in inspired similar protests across the country, Bilkis had told The Indian Express, “We are old and we are not doing this for ourselves… This is for our children. Why else will we spend our days and nights during the coldest winter of our lives in the open?”

On January 26, Bilkis, along with the mothers of Rohith Vemula and Junaid Khan, hoisted the national flag at Shaheen Bagh as hundreds of people showed up there for Republic Day celebrations. At the time, the resilience of the “Dadis of Shaheen Bagh” was captured in songs, poems, slogans and graffiti as well.

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In February, when an armed assailant fired at least two shots barely 50 metres away from the stage at Shaheen Bagh, Bilkis was at her spot near the stage. At the time, she told The Indian Express, “There was panic inside the tent but people eventually calmed down. We walked till the point where cartridges were found and offered prayers… These bullets don’t scare us.”

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