Shaheen Bagh: India celebrates grandmother on Time magazine's icon list

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BilkisImage source, Getty Images
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Bilkis was part of a group of women who peacefully protested a controversial citizenship law at Shaheen Bagh

An 82-year old Indian woman, who was the face of a long-running protest, is on Time magazine's list of 100 "Most Influential People of 2020".

Bilkis was part of a group of women who peacefully protested against a controversial citizenship law.

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bollywood actor Ayushmann Khurana are among those on the list.

The annual list features pioneers, leaders and icons from around the world who have made an impact.

Time's profile of Bilkis, who is popularly called 'Dadi (Hindi for grandmother), is written by Indian journalist and author Rana Ayyub who describes her as "the voice of the marginalised".

"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," Ms Ayyub writes.

Soon after the announcement, #ShaheenBagh, the area where the protests were held, and #Bilkis rose to the top of Twitter trends as many celebrated her achievement.

Bollywood director Onir called her a "brave, inspirational voice from Shaheen Bagh," on twitter. Lawyer Karuna Nundy tweeted that Bilkis' "reclamation of the Constitution in Shaheen Bagh" was one of the most inspiring acts this year.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Women from all age groups protested against the citizenship law in Shaheen Bagh

The Muslim locality, Shaheen Bagh - where a long-running peaceful protest against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) took place - captured the imagination of many Indians.

Muslim women came out in large numbers and peacefully protested, although many others from different religions sat alongside them in solidarity.

The women read each other the preamble of India's constitution, made speeches reaffirming their citizenship and sang patriotic songs.

Many praised the tenacity of the protesters, calling them inspirational and thanking them for their perseverance.

Several petitions have been filed in court by political parties, Muslim and civil society groups which argue that the new citizenship law is illegal as it grants citizenship on the basis of religion, which goes against India's secular values enshrined in the constitution.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Many praised the tenacity of the protesters, who braved cold weather

The protest was also heavily criticised and became the target of a vitriolic state election campaign by the country's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The BJP accused the protestors of being "traitors" to India because of their opposition to the law, which offers amnesty to non-Muslim illegal immigrants from three neighbouring Muslim-majority countries.