“You have become world-famous now. How do you feel?”
“I feel awesome.”
Everyone’s favourite ‘Dabang Dadi’ from Shaheen Bagh made it to the TIME’s list of 100 most influential people and people can’t keep calm!
82-year-old Bilkis Bano spent most of her life in a small viillage near Uttar Pradesh’s Hapur, but last winter she, along with several other women at Shaheen Bagh, became a symbol of resistance across the country against the alleged divisive CAA-NRC-NPR.
“I have never heard of anything called TIME magazine before this in my life. But it feels great to be so loved. I have never attended school, never learnt Hindi or Urdu. I have only gained knowledge from Quran sharif. I have complete faith in it.”
She has never participated in any protest like this before. But this time was different. She says, “ I started going there after they attacked our kids in Jamia. Today, this is happening in front of my eyes, when I die, what will they do to our kids?”
From bullets to burqa-clad rightwing Youtubers sneakily taking videos of protesters, Dadi braved it all. Yet, several media reports, politicians and even the Delhi police chargesheet on the February violence kept alleging that the protesters at Shaheen Bagh were paid daily wages. Behold! Dadi has a reply for all of them:
“We have no love for money. We love respect. Give us respect, we don’t need money.”
To Shaheen Bagh Women, With Love From Dadi
Dadi also had a message for all the women who braved the biting cold of Delhi and refused to end the protest against the CAA-NRC-NPR.
“I want to give a lot of blessings to all of them. More power to them.”
The protest went on for over 100 days with many trying to malign, even attack the protesters. Supreme Court also appointed interlocutors to discuss the issue of public inconvenience with the protesters. But nothing could make them budge. Until COVID-19 hit the country and the Delhi police removed the protesters and cleared the site in view of safety protocols.
But if Dadi ever gets a chance to meet PM Narendra Modi, she knows what she wants to tell him.
“We want justice. We want truth. We don’t want betrayal.”
And what kind of India does she envisons for her children?
I want a peaceful, loving India. Not just for my children. For all the children in the country.
Well, you may call dadi a ‘dreamer’. But I promise, if nothing else the Shaheen Bagh protests has shown us all that she is ‘not the only one.’