New Delhi: Months after a now defunct website called ‘Sulli Deals’ put up photographs of Indian Muslim women, listing them for “sale”, a similar website and app by the name of ‘Bulli Bai’ has triggered outrage.
On the complaint of a woman journalist who had allegedly been targeted by the app, Delhi Police has registered an FIR under section 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the IPC, the ANI reported Sunday.
The app, which surfaced on software development platform GitHub and reportedly carried pictures of a 100 Muslim women, was called out by several women on social media Saturday.
Later in the day, IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw tweeted that the app has been blocked by GitHub and the police and Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) — an agency under the IT ministry that deals with cyber security — are probing the matter.
The Delhi Police had tweeted Saturday that concerned officials had been directed to take appropriate action, reacting to a tweet by journalist Ismat Ara, who shared a screenshot of her photos featured on the app.
“Very sad that as a Muslim woman you have to start your new year with this sense of fear and disgust,” she wrote.
It is very sad that as a Muslim woman you have to start your new year with this sense of fear & disgust. Of course it goes without saying that I am not the only one being targeted in this new version of #sullideals. Screenshot sent by a friend this morning.
Happy new year. pic.twitter.com/pHuzuRrNXR
— Ismat Ara (@IsmatAraa) January 1, 2022
Another journalist, Hiba Beg, also shared on Twitter that her pictures “were being auctioned off” on the app.
Today I visited my grandmother’s grave for the first time since I lost her to COVID. As I sat in the car to go home, concerned friends told me that once again, my pictures were being auctioned off (along with those of other Muslim women) by Modi’s India. #BulliDeals (1)
— Hiba Bég (@HibaBeg) January 1, 2022
The website http://bullibai.github.io/ is no longer functional. Four Twitter accounts that were posting screenshots of the app (@wannabesigmaf, @bullibai_, @sage0x11 and @jattkhalsa7) have been deactivated.
Victims today are paying the price of the previous disregard. pic.twitter.com/jZtasc4jwj
— Team Saath Official🤝 (@TeamSaath) January 2, 2022
GitHub — which has its headquarters in San Diego, USA — has not yet issued a statement on the matter. GitHub had also hosted ‘Sulli Deals’, but removed it later.
National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Rekha Sharma tweeted Sunday that the matter had been “noted”.
‘Communal targeting of women’
Several people raised their voices against the app on social media and expressed solidarity with the targeted women.
Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi tweeted Saturday that she had “repeatedly asked IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw to take stern action against such rampant misogyny and communal targeting of women”.
“A shame that it continues to be ignored,” she added.
Chaturvedi also wrote that she had spoken to Mumbai Police Commissioner Hemant Nagrale and Deputy Commissioner Police (Cyber) Dr Rashmi Karandikar and been assured of an investigation.
I have repeatedly asked Hon. IT Minister @AshwiniVaishnaw ji to take stern action against such rampant misogyny and communal targeting of women through #sullideals like platforms. A shame that it continues to be ignored. https://t.co/Q3JLxZpNeC
— Priyanka Chaturvedi🇮🇳 (@priyankac19) January 1, 2022
Congress leader and MP Karti Chidambaram tweeted that it was “unacceptable” that “this project of dangerous anti-Muslim misogyny is back”.
“Appalling indictment of the state of affairs, that not only was nothing done last time, these forces felt emboldened to repeat the whole thing because the establishment backs them,” he added.
It is unacceptable that this project of dangerous anti-Muslim misogyny is back. Appalling indictment of the state of affairs, that not only was nothing done last time, these forces felt emboldened to repeat the whole thing because the establishment backs them. https://t.co/0huEq05zp4
— Karti P Chidambaram (@KartiPC) January 1, 2022
Congress MP Dr Mohammad Jawed also requested action against both platforms.
Requested Hon’ HM @AmitShah Ji to take action on Sulli Deals perpetrators along w 56MPs. Now a new platform “BulliBai” has surfaced which is a replica of Sulli deals. Requesting Action on both these platforms and the criminals who have no fear of the law. @RahulGandhi @INCIndia https://t.co/Y1o8b2Usi1 pic.twitter.com/mIWm8jU1SA
— Dr Md Jawaid (@DrMdJawaid1) January 1, 2022
AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi tweeted that “inaction by the authorities has made these criminals brazen”, and called on IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, the NCW, and Delhi Police to take action.
— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) January 1, 2022
The ‘Sulli Deals’ case
In July 2021, a similar app and website called ‘Sulli Deals’ had surfaced, carrying photographs of around 90 women “on sale”. The Delhi Police had registered a case against unknown persons days after the incident, and said that it had sent notices to GitHub — which had hosted the website — seeking details. However, no arrests were made in the case.
A GitHub spokesperson had earlier told ThePrint: “GitHub has longstanding policies against content and conduct involving harassment, discrimination, and inciting violence. We suspended user accounts following the investigation of reports of such activity, all of which violate our policies.”
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)