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‘For fun, releasing frustration’: Clubhouse users who made rape threats, slurs against Muslims

Users who made comments like ‘rape is an art’ likely to be arrested soon. ThePrint accessed recordings and spoke to them, as well as to users who were at the receiving end.

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New Delhi: Several young men and women who made derogatory and sexually explicit remarks about Muslim women on the social media app Clubhouse are likely to be arrested soon, sources in the Delhi Police said Wednesday. ThePrint has accessed extended recordings of Clubhouse chats and also spoken to some users who said they were just having “fun” by making rape threats and communal slurs.

Delhi Police are now close on their heels. “Most names and IDs are fake and have been deactivated, but with technical assistance, we are backtracking them. We have intel that the main culprits are from places around Delhi. They will be brought in for questioning soon,” a police source told ThePrint, adding that no one had been detained as of Wednesday evening. The police are also checking whether some participants digitally modulated their voices.

On Monday night, a screen recording went viral of a Clubhouse chatroom discussing the topic “Muslim gals are more beautiful than Hindu gals”, where the conversation included comparing sex with a Muslim woman to “building seven temples” and “demolishing the Babri Masjid”.

The next day, Delhi Commission for Women chairperson Swati Maliwal issued a notice to the Delhi Police demanding action against the participants for making “obscene comments against Muslim women”. Within hours, the police lodged FIRs against unknown persons under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings), and 354A (sexual harassment).

However, this was not the only Clubhouse chatroom that was engaging in hateful, misogynistic discussions Monday. ThePrint has accessed recordings of another discussion that took place in a second chatroom around the topic “Girls don’t have the privilege to marry upper caste boys”. The first chat took place around 3.30pm Monday, and the second one at around 7.30pm, shortly before a clip of the first discussion went viral.

“We have taken cognisance of both groups. All those whose voices can be heard are being tracked on priority — males and females,” the Delhi Police officer said.

ThePrint managed to speak to some of the anonymous participants in both chatrooms who said that they were just “releasing frustration” by discussing their communally charged rape fantasies. ThePrint has also gathered screenshots of other problematic groups discussing and sharing abusive content on Clubhouse, for instance “Kashmiri militants only eat (name of woman’s online handle)”.


Also Read: After ‘auction apps’, lewd Clubhouse chat targets Muslim women. Delhi Police file FIR


‘Joined group for dark humour’

ThePrint spoke to Kira XD, who appeared to be a moderator of the first group and was also active in the second. ThePrint has accessed a 20-minute recording from the first chatroom and has also heard a two-minute clip from the second.

Kira XD told ThePrint that he is an 18-year-old from Karnal and sought to underplay his role in the discussion. “I don’t hate Muslims, it’s for fun,” he said. “I was the second or third moderator, and Bismillah [another user] was the first who created [the group]. There is a background story… it’s sort of releasing frustration,” he said. In the recording from the second chat, Kira can be heard making disturbing comments about rape.

The Clubhouse profile of ‘Bismillah’, one of the dominant voices in the controversial chats

Another participant who joined the first group said he was a 21-year-old B.Com. student and was there for the “dark humour”.

“I was there for just two minutes, I didn’t get a chance to talk,” he said. “I have seen a lot in my life, so I am like this, but I didn’t say anything in this chatroom,” he added.

The clipping from the conversation, which revolved around sex and Muslim women’s private parts, includes a female voice too.

This voice purportedly belongs to Roma Makkar, who says she is a yoga enthusiast and a feminist. She told ThePrint that she joined the group “thinking it’s an open place for discussion”.

“I am a feminist, I have lots of Muslim friends. I saw names like Bismillah! I left when they started talking about the Babri Masjid. I don’t endorse any of the things they said. I will cooperate if the police approach me, but I know none of them personally,” she said.

In the 20-minute clip, Makkar can be heard talking about how 70 per cent of Muslims in India are converts, how Halal is not just about cutting meat but also about purity, among other things. In the recording, some users repeatedly interrupt Makkar and Bismillah asks her if she is from Pakistan.

Makkar was also part of a discussion, ostensibly on the Oedipus Complex, a Freudian term referring to a boy’s sexual desire towards his mother. In this conversation, a man claimed to have a Hindu Brahmin father and a Muslim mother, and had developed a “crush” on his mother’s private parts. Makkar eventually left the room saying that she had only joined because she thought it was a discussion on Islam but that “no one knows anything”.

‘They say rape is an art, morph images, upload numbers on porn sites’

ThePrint spoke to three young women who were all part of the second group discussing the topic “Girls don’t have the privilege to marry upper caste boys”.

All three said that they had been using Clubhouse since June-July 2021 and had encountered a group of men, seemingly between the ages of 18 and 22, making rape threats and communal statements.

One woman, who said she was 21 years old and a Hindu, alleged that there was a “gang” of men targeting women on Clubhouse. “They say say rape is an art. The same seven or eight people keep creating similar groups,” she said, adding that misogyny and “hurting religious sentiments” seemed to go hand in hand for these men.

Two other women, a a Muslim woman in her 20s and a 16-year-old Sikh who is still in school, also said they had received rape threats and communal insults.

The men have taken their campaign to harass women even further, the 21-year-old woman alleged. “They take our profile photos, find out our numbers, and then threaten us on calls,” she claimed.

“They have morphed images of many women, created chat rooms with abusive names after girls’ IDs… we keep waiting for Clubhouse to take action,” she further alleged.

In an e-mail response to ThePrint, a Clubhouse spokesperson said that the platform took “swift action” by either suspending or removing users when violations of community guidelines were reported and confirmed. “In this instance, the room was reported and those involved in organising were quickly actioned. As always, we can’t predict what humans will say but we can respond quickly once they violate our guidelines,” the spokesperson said.

The Clubhouse incident has come close on the heels of the Bulli Bai mobile app that listed hundreds of Muslim women for ‘auction’.

(Edited by Asavari Singh)


Also Read: Bulli Bai app and the descent of India’s educated youth into using tech for anti-Muslim hate


 

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