Bilkis and the other elderly women who participated in the protest against India's new citizenship law became the symbol of resistance and hope, and came to be fondly known as the “Dadis of Shaheen Bagh”
The TIME magazine has included Bilkis – an 82-year old lady from Indian capital Delhi's Shaheen Bagh in its list of "The 100 Most Influential People of 2020".
She took part in the Delhi protest after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government passed the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which could block Muslims from citizenship in the country, in December, and she continued through the cold winter, reports the Indian Express.
Even as Delhi braved its coldest winter in over a century, Bilkis - with a smile on her face and a shawl around her shoulders - sat with hundreds of women under a canopied tent in the Indian capital's Shaheen Bagh dueing the protest for over three months.
Bilkis and the other elderly women who participated in the protest Indian's new citizenship law became the symbol of resistance and hope, and came to be fondly known as the "Dadis of Shaheen Bagh."
Indian journalist and author Rana Ayyub, who penned a piece for TIME magazine, wrote: "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.
In January, as the Shaheen Bagh sit-in inspired similar protests across the country, Bilkis said: "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.
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.
"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," she said after the incident.