'Bulli Bai' row: After Bengaluru engineering student's arrest, Mumbai Police detain woman believed to be 'mastermind' of the app

The app, created on 1 January, has caused outrage over the nation for displaying more than 100 Muslim women ‘for sale’

FP Staff January 04, 2022 10:55:44 IST
'Bulli Bai' row: After Bengaluru engineering student's arrest, Mumbai Police detain woman believed to be 'mastermind' of the app

Representational image. AFP

The Bulli Bai app row has snowballed further; after detaining a 21-year-old engineering student from Bengaluru, Mumbai Police on Tuesday detained a woman in Uttarakhand believed to be the mastermind.

Additionally, more voices came forward against the dodgy app that targets Muslim women in the country, with veteran screenwriter Javed Akhtar, saying he was "appalled" with everyone's silence, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his own, over the harassment of Muslim women, whose doctored pictures were put online for auction in this latest incident.

Two detained

The Mumbai Police's cybercrimes wing detained a woman in Uttarakhand for her role in the app, which wanted to auction off over 100 Muslim women.

"Seems like is the main mastermind behind the app. She will be presented before a court in Uttarakhand for transit remand. After obtaining the transit remand, she will be brought to Mumbai," a police official was quoted as telling news agency ANI.

This comes after, a 21-year-old civil engineering student, was arrested by the Mumbai Police after being detained from Bengaluru.

Earlier, a senior IPS officer had said, according to NewsMinute, “The 21-year-old is a second-year civil engineering student. He used his Twitter handle to share derogatory content from the Bulli Bai app. We have detained him."

The officer also added that the student was traced through the IP address of the Twitter accounts that were used to upload the pictures.

According to officials, the student, who has now been identified as Vishal Kumar, had become friends with the detained woman through Instagram.

"Vishal changed his name on 31 December. He took up a name related to the Sikh community," the official added.

Mumbai Police's action came after a case was registered against the developers of the app on 1 January under sections 354-D (stalking of women), 500 (Punishment for defamation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and other sections of the Information Technology Act.

Delhi Police questions Twitter

Earlier, the Delhi Police had sought information from Twitter about the account that first tweeted about the 'Bulli Bai' app.

Police has also sought information from GitHub platform about the 'Bulli Bai' app developer.

Cops jumped into action after a female journalist filed a case when her photo was uploaded on the website to target her.

Outrage over the app

The app has drawn widespread outrage from social media users, as well as in political circles.

Hundreds of Muslim women were listed for "auction" on the 'Bulli Bai' mobile application with photographs sourced without permission and doctored. It has happened for the second time in less than a year. The app appeared to be a clone of Sulli Deals which triggered a similar row last year.

In July, an app called “Sulli deals” had posted hundreds of images of Muslim women for “online auction”. “Sulli” is a derogatory term used to refer to Muslim women.

Terming the matter "serious", Delhi Minorities Commission issued a notice to city police chief Rakesh Asthana seeking an action-taken report on 10 January. It said the interests of Muslim women need to be safeguarded by nabbing the culprits.

The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) has also asked police officials to appear before it later this week.
Political leaders too condemned the harassment of Muslim women through the app.

Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said: "Strongly condemn this disgusting harassment of Muslim women. This is the result of repeated dehumanisation of minorities by the BJP leadership."

"Why were previous instances of similar harassment ignored? I hope this time, the strongest action against the guilty will be taken," he added.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala alleged the BJP government has abdicated its constitutional and legal responsibility in acting against those lumpen elements and criminals, who are trying to tarnish the modesty of women.
"Can India's women be divided now or looked at from the prism of their religion or caste or region or colour of their skin or the kind of clothes they wear," he posed.

BJP leader and Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi accursed those behind the app and said any "cyber criminal communal conspiracy" against the country's composite culture will not succeed.

Interacting with reporters, Naqvi, who is the Union Minister for Minority Affairs, noted the government has been acting in the matter and said such targeting of women is unacceptable.

Madhya Pradesh home minister Narottam Mishra and said action will be taken against developers of the app if a complaint is received against it.

Information and Technology minister Ashwini Vaishnaw had said on Sunday that the government is working with police in Delhi and Mumbai, where cases have been registered in the matter.

He also said that GitHub has blocked the user who had uploaded the app and that the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), the country's nodal agency on cyber security, and police are coordinating further action in the matter.

With inputs from PTI

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