New Delhi: The Delhi Police has registered a case against unknown persons, days after 90 Muslim women were put ‘on sale’ on a now-defunct website called ‘Sulli Deals’. ‘Sulli’ is a derogatory slang for Muslim women.
Prem Nath, Joint Commissioner of Delhi Police, Cyber Cell, said an FIR has been lodged and investigation is on. “We sent notices to GitHub to share all crucial details about this website yesterday (Wednesday).”
GitHub is the software development platform that hosted the website.
The police registered the case under Section 354A (punishment for sexual harassment) of the Indian Penal Code late Wednesday, on a complaint received through the National Cybercrime Reporting Portal.
A senior police officer, who did not wish to be named, told ThePrint: “We will follow up on the notice with GitHub, the company should comply with the case. They will help with all details including the names and locations of the owners of the website.”
The National Commission of Women Thursday also took suo motu cognisance of the case and Chairperson Rekha Sharma has written to the Delhi commissioner of police asking him to inform within 10 days about the action taken on the case. A copy of the letter has also been sent to Anyesh Roy, DCP, Cyber Cell.
@NCWIndia has taken cognizance of the matter. Chairperson @sharmarekha has written to @CPDelhi for investigation & filing of FIR in the matter. Action taken has to be informed to NCW within 10 days. Copy of the letter has also been sent to DCP Cyber Crime.https://t.co/KGR4XrmyuA
— NCW (@NCWIndia) July 8, 2021
The Delhi Commission of Women, meanwhile, issued a notice to the Delhi Police Wednesday, seeking a response by 14 July.
The panel has asked for a copy of the FIR registered in the matter along with details of the accused identified and arrested, and a report on the detailed action taken in the case.
Online harassment of Muslim women
The matter came to light Sunday after a social media user, who was among those named in the website, found the link online. After the widespread outrage that followed, GitHub took the website down Monday.
The website had described itself as a “community driven open source project” and profiled Muslim women journalists, activists, analysts, artists, researchers and others who are active on social media, including a pilot.
ThePrint’s senior correspondent Fatima Khan was also named on the website. While a majority of the women were Indian, women of other nationalities, including from Pakistan, were also named for the auction.
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.”
According to the upload date of the photographs, it appears the website had been active at least for the last 20 days.
This is also not the first instance of Muslim women being subject to online harassment and bullying.
In an earlier instance, photographs and identities of several Muslim women were revealed without their consent.
On 13 May, a YouTube LIVE by a channel, ‘Liberal Doge’, had shared pictures of Pakistani women in an abusive and sexualised video as an “Eid Special”.
Soon after, Muslim women including Congress’s social media national coordinator Hasiba Amin, were put up for a virtual ‘bid’.
An FIR was lodged in the South West district based on Amin’s complaint.
Speaking about Amin’s case, a senior investigating officer said: “The investigation is underway. We have sent letters to the concerned people but they have not yet responded.”
The officer added that he could not reveal the recipients of the notices.
(Edited by Rachel John)