82-year-old Bilkis Bano, who became the face of the anti-CAA protests at Shaheen Bagh early this year, was detained by Delhi Police yesterday for supporting the ongoing farmers’ protests. On Tuesday, the police personnel reportedly stopped the Shaheen Bagh Dadi from joining the agitating farmers at Singhu Border in Delhi.
The face of courage and strength
Towards the end of 2019, millions across the country participated in the mass protests against the Central government’s controversial CAA-NRC Bill. Dubbed as divisive on religious lines, the bill threatened the secular fabric of India’s social demography and endangered the situation of the religious minority communities, especially Muslims.
As the country erupted in massive protests, Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh became an iconic symbol of courage. Hundreds of Muslim women of all ages braved the biting cold to sit out in protest at Shaheen Bagh in the open. Their peaceful protest continued through the harsh winter months despite the ruling party’s endless efforts to drive them away. Octogenarian Bilkis Bano was a prominent face among the protesters.
Bano’s fiery statements and sheer courage soon earned her popularity as ‘Shaheen Bagh Dadi’. The protests abruptly died down due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Bano earned the limelight again later when she was honoured by TIME magazine as one among the 100 influential people of 2020.
Shaheen Bagh Dadi calls herself ‘farmer’s daughter’
On Tuesday, Bano braved the aggravating COVID-19 situation in Delhi to stand in solidarity with the farmers who are protesting for days against the Centre’s new farm laws.
Before arriving at Singhu Border, she strongly expressed her dissent against the government. Proclaiming herself as a ‘farmer’s daughter’, Bano showed her determination to stand with the farmers and make the government listen to their demands. “We will raise our voice, the government should listen to us,” she told ANI.
However, soon after she reached the designated bus stop, she was detained by the police. Later, the police escorted her back to her residence in South-East Delhi.
In an official statement to PTI, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Outer North) Gaurav Sharma said that Bano was stopped since joining the protests would have exposed her to the risk of COVID-19. He added that she was asked to return as it was not safe for a senior citizen to be outside in the pandemic.
Incidentally, just a few days ago Kangana Ranaut faced a lot of flak from netizens for sharing fake news about Bilkis Bano. In a Twitter post, Ranaut falsely shamed Shaheen Bagh Dadi for joining the farmers’ protests, while sharing the photo of a different woman. After a slew of criticism, she deleted the Twitter post.
Despite the detainment, Bano’s bold identification of herself as a ‘farmer’s daughter’ has appealed to the dissenting farmers and resonating with the country’s empathy towards the protesters.