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Muslim women listed for auction on Bulli Bai app, 2 accused arrested

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In Delhi, a shocking incident of harassment came to light this week after a woman journalist lodged a complaint with the Delhi Police stating that she was being targeted by an unidentified group of people on a mobile app named ‘Bulli Bai’, created on GitHub platform.

The “Bulli Bai” app, which popped up on January 1, targeted Muslim women including journalists, social workers, students and famous personalities, and uploaded their morphed photographs without their consent, claiming they were up for “auction”.

AT A GLANCE

  • The “Bulli Bai” app targeted and circulated pictures of Muslim women along with offensive content online without their knowledge
  • A Bengaluru man ,21, and a woman, 18, from Uttarakhand have been arrested in connection with the case 
  • This has happened before, on another website called “Sulli Deals”. Delhi Police are now investigating common hosting platform, “GitHub”

The victim journalist in her complaint had stated that she found out on January 1 morning that a website portal called bullibai.github.io (since deleted) had a digitally altered picture of her in an improper, unacceptable and clearly lewd context.

“The term Bulli Bai itself seems disrespectful and the content of this website/portal is clearly aimed at insulting Muslim women as the derogatory term ‘Bulli’ is used exclusively for Muslim women,” read the complaint.

“Bulli Bai” was also being endorsed by a Twitter handle with the name @bullibai, saying the women could be booked from the app. The handle was also promoting Khalistani content at the same time.

Shiv Sena leader and Rajya Sabha member Priyanka Chaturvedi wrote to Mumbai Police after which the case was lodged.

The two arrested accused know each other

A 21-year-old engineering student Vishal Kumar Jha has been revealed as a co-accused in the ‘Bulli Bai’ app case and was detained in Bengaluru on Tuesday 4 Jan. He has been remanded to police custody until 10 Jan. The court has also granted police permission to search Kumar’s residence.

Police sources said, Jha had changed his name on social media profiles at least three times in the past week to confuse victims. One of the fake identities he used was ‘Khalsa Supremacist’, pretending to be a Sikh from Punjab, The Print reported.

On Jan 4, a second arrest was made in Uttarakhand where 18-year-old Shweta Singh from Uttarakhand was held. She is alleged to be the mastermind behind the notorious “Bulli Bai” app. Singh has been detained by a Mumbai Police team and will be produced at Uttarakhand Court for transit remand. She will then be brought to Mumbai.

The two are alleged to be friends on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram and are known to each other, a senior Mumbai Police officer told the Indian daily.

Bulli Bai and Sulli Deals hosted on GitHub platform

According to sources, Delhi Police on Monday shot a letter to social media giant Twitter seeking information about the account that first tweeted about the ‘Bulli Bai’ app and further asked it to remove the offensive content. The police also sought information from software development platform GitHub about the ‘Bulli Bai’ app developer, sources said.

This comes six months after the “Sulli Deals” controversy. In July last year, a similar website ‘Sulli Deals’, which is now non-functional, had put up similar photographs of Muslim women, labelling them “for sale”.

However, when the Sulli Deal controversy came up, two FIRs were lodged against unknown persons, but the culprits behind it were never traced or arrested.

Delhi Police on Tuesday got approval from the government for Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty to seek details from US-based firm GitHub about the user who uploaded the app, Sulli Deals, on the platform six months ago.

“Investigation in the ‘Sulli deals’ is still going on,” informed Additional Commissioner of Police, Chinmoy Biswal.

In India, crimes and hatred towards minority communities are on the rise again, with little recourse. This cyber crime controversy comes after Hindu religious leaders publicly promoted genocide of India’s Muslim community. The incident took place last month in Haridwar and went viral after Hindu extremists made speeches about killing Muslims at the gathering.

IANS and other reports

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