- Bilkis became the voice of the marginalized in India, an 82-year-old who would sit at a protest site from 8 a.m. to midnight
- She said: “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.”
The Time has named Bilkis, an 82- year-old Indian Muslim woman from New Delhi, as one of 100 Most Influential People in 2020.
The elderly woman became the voice of the marginalized in India during the huge protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, which could block Muslims from citizenship in the country.
“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,” Rana Ayyub, an Indian journalist, wrote in the Time description.
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Surrounded by thousands of young protesting women, Bilkis became the symbol of resistance.
The elderly woman, nicknamed “dadis”, was part of the anti-CAA sit-in protest for over three months.
Sitting in Delh’s Shaheen Bagh protest camp, she used to hold prayer beads in one hand and the national flag in the other. Blikis also used to sit at the protest site every day from 8 am to midnight
“She said to me as a parting note: ‘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.’ Bilkis deserves recognition so the world acknowledges the power of resistance against tyranny,” Ayyub wrote.
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The anti-CAA protests occurred after the government of India enacted the bill on 12 December 2019.
The move sparked widespread protests against the act and its associated proposals of the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The protests first began in Assam and spread swiftly to other states such as Delhi, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, and Tripura.
Observers accused many members of the governing party of hate speech as they called for the violent removal of protesters. An attempt by supporters of the government in February triggered deadly violence in northwest Delhi that left 53 people dead.
In March, Delhi police broke up the Shaheen Bagh protest, the longest-running anti-CAA protest. They cited a ban on public gatherings because of the coronavirus pandemic.