After Time Magazine, BBC Names Shaheen Bagh Dadi in ‘100 Women of 2020’ List

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Bilkis, 82-year old Dadi of Shaheen Bagh. — File photo

Three other Indian women who also made it to the list are musician Isaivani, para-athlete Manasi Joshi and climate activist Ridhima Pandey

Clarion India

NEW DELHI — Bilkis Bano, aka Bilkis Dadi aka Dadi of Shaheen Bagh, who emerged as the face of the women-led protest movement against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in India has made it to the BBC’s list of 100 Most Influential Women in the world for 2020 released on Monday.

“At 82, Bilkis was part of a group of women who peacefully protested against a controversial citizenship law.

Bilkis Dadi is at Number 15 in the BBC list. She has been selected in the leadership category. Apart from her, the three other women who have made it to the list are musician Isaivani, para-athlete Manasi Joshi and climate activist Ridhima Pandey.

Last year, the BBC list had included eight women from India.

Bilkis Dadi became the face of a long-running protest at the national capital’s Shaheen Bagh, the Muslim locality where the protests were held. Indian journalist and author Rana Ayyub described her as “the voice of the marginalised,” BBC said in her profile description.

Bilkis participated in the months-long sit-in of women at a road in the Muslim-dominated locality of Shaheen Bagh in New Delhi  in protest against the divisive citizenship law enacted by the Modi government in December 2019.

The law allows speedy naturalisation of refugees from neighbouring countries but excludes Muslims even as secularism is fundamental in the Indian Constitution.

The sit-in at Shaheen Bagh had inspired many more women-led protests in towns and cities across the length and breadth of the country.

The presence of an elderly woman like Bilkis at a protest smashed stereotypes about Indian Muslim women demonstrating their emancipation.

It braved police cases, media witch-hunt, government pressure but came to halt on March 24 when India imposed an unprecedented countrywide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus.

A recent judgement by the Supreme Court on the Sheen Bagh declared that sit-ins and roadblocks for protests cannot be indefinite. The judgement triggered a sharp reaction from rights activists who said that it went against the spirit of people to protest.

In September, the prestigious American news weekly magazine, Time, had named her as one of the 100 most influential people of 2020.

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