Octogenarian Shaheen Bagh activist Bilkis ‘Dadi’ was detained and escorted from Delhi-Haryana’s Singhu border on Tuesday when she attempted to join hundreds of farmers protesting against the new farm bills.
Bilkis, popularly known as the Shaheen Bagh Dadi, had expressed her willingness to join the farmers' protest at the Delhi-Haryana border. “We are the daughters of farmers. We'll go to support farmers' protest today. We will raise our voice, the government should listen to us,” the elderly activist had said earlier in the day.
Soon after she reached the border point to extend her support to the agitating farmers, she was stopped by Delhi Police personnel at the border. "She was stopped at the Singhu Border and was escorted by the police back to her home in southeast Delhi," a senior police officer said.
Bilkis ‘Dadi’ had made headlines last year when she along with other women residents of south Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh staged a sit-in against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Bills which grew into a massive movement against the legislation seen as anti-Muslim. She was also recognised by the American weekly Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people of 2020 alongside Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bollywood actor Ayushman Khurrana.
At the peak of the protest in January this year, several Sikh farmers from unions in Punjab had turned up in Shaheen Bagh to lend support and set up a langar to provide hot meals to those on protest.
Members of more than 30 farmer unions have been camped at Delhi borders for six days now demanding a rollback of farm bills they allege will end the minimum support price (MSP) system and leave farmers at the mercy of corporates.
Small growers fear the new laws will make them vulnerable to competition from big business, and that they could eventually lose price supports for staples such as wheat and rice.
India's vast farm sector contributes nearly 15% of the country's $2.9 trillion economy and employs around half its 1.3 billion people.