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Mastermind made Sulli Deals after joining Twitter group for defaming Muslim women: Delhi Police

Arrest of app’s alleged creator comes 6 months after FIR was lodged last year, and days after the alleged creator of a similar app called ‘Bulli Bai’ was arrested in Assam.

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New Delhi: The creator and “mastermind” of Sulli Deals — a now defunct app that uploaded images of Muslim women without their consent for the purpose of ‘auctioning’ them last year — has been arrested, the Delhi Police announced Sunday.

The accused, 25-year-old Aumkareshwar Thakur, was apprehended by Delhi Police’s Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Operations (IFSO) unit from his residence in New York City Township, Nihalpur Mundi of Indore, Madhya Pradesh, said Deputy Commissioner of Police (IFSO) KPS Malhotra.

The arrest comes six months after the Delhi Police had registered an FIR in the matter last July, and days after the alleged creator of a similar app and website called ‘Bulli Bai’, 20-year-old B.Tech student Neeraj Bishnoi, was arrested from Jorhat, Assam, last Wednesday.

Thakur had completed his undergraduate studies in computer application from IPS Academy, Indore, and runs an IT software company there, said DCP Malhotra.

Sources in the police said the 25-year-old was identified after extensive use of tech and research and the use of Facial Recognition Software (FRS). His brother is a software engineer and his father works for a private company, they added.

Also Read: Minorities panel asks for action-taken report on ‘Sulli deals’ case from Delhi, Ghaziabad cops

It started with a ‘Tradmahasabha’

In January 2020, Thakur had joined a Twitter group called ‘Tradmahasabha’, police said.

“He used the Twitter handle @gangescion. During various group discussions, the members had discussed trolling Muslim community women. He then developed the code/app on GitHub,” said DCP Malhotra.

Sources said Thakur used as many as seven Twitter handles including @Sigmatrad, @mithlabvll and @Sullideals101.

“During preliminary interrogation, Aumkareshwar Thakur admitted that he was member of a ‘Trad’ group on Twitter and the idea was shared to defame and troll Muslim women,” said DCP Malhotra.

According to the police, Thakur had developed the code for the app on software development platform GitHub and then granted access to it to all members of the ‘Trad’ group.

The case was registered after around 90 Muslim women, including journalists, activists and researchers, were put up for “sale” on the Sulli Deals app and website, along with their photographs and Twitter handles.

“He had shared the app on his Twitter account. Photos of the Muslim women were uploaded by the group members — the propagators,” DCP Malhotra said.

Of late, Hindu radicals have been divided into two groups on social media — ‘Trad’ and ‘Raita’. Trads are ‘traditionalists’ consisting mostly of upper caste Hindus. ‘Raitas’, on the other hand, disassociate themselves from ‘Trads’. Raita comes loosely from the term ‘raita failana’ or making a mess. After the arrest of ‘Bulli Bai’ creator Bishnoi, several ‘Raita’ handles on Twitter had hit out at ‘Trads’.

“After the uproar over the Sulli Deals app, he had deleted all his social media footprints. Further interrogation is underway. Further analysis of the gadgets is underway to find out codes and images related to the Sulli Deals app,” said DCP Malhotra.

‘Bulli Bai and Sulli Deals creators never met’

Bulli Bai is a clone app of Sulli Deals, also hosted by GitHub. On 1 January, morphed images of hundreds of women were found listed on the ‘Bulli Bai’ app as up for ‘auction’, sparking an uproar on social media. The profiles posted included those of several Muslim women journalists and activists.

Vishal Kumar Jha, another student, Shweta Singh, a Class 12 pass out and Mayank Rawat, second year student at Delhi Zakir Husain College, were arrested by Mumbai Police in the Bulli Bai case Tuesday.

The main accused in the Bulli Bai case, Bishnoi, arrested four days after an FIR was registered in Delhi, was also one of the promoters of the Sulli Deals app, according to Delhi Police.

According to the police, Bishnoi had revealed during interrogation that he was in touch with the creator of the handle @sullideals, which had created the Sulli Deals app on GitHub, and he had also propagated the same to others in the group.

“Bishnoi and the main accused in the Sulli Deals case never met. They interacted only on the Twitter group through their handles. He had identified a few persons who were questioned,” a source said.

In the Bulli Bai app case too, the accused used to communicate on Twitter chat groups but had never met each other. Bishnoi is also accused of putting on “sale” Congress national media coordinator Hasiba Anim, on 16 May.

(Edited by Gitanjali Das)

Also Read: Police probe video of Chhattisgarh villagers’ ‘oath’ to boycott Muslims, say ‘they accept mistake’

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