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Two more FIRs lodged against creators of Bulli Bai app as Mumbai police makes arrests

Victims of the app that targetted Muslim women refuse to let the issue wind down while police say more arrests are expected.

Two new FIRs have been filed by the Hyderabad and Cyberabad police based on victims’ complaints on January 3 and 4, respectively, against creators of the Bulli Bai app which listed over 100 Muslim women for an online auction. This is in addition to two FIRs that have already been registered against the app’s creators in Mumbai and Delhi. Three people have reportedly been arrested by the Mumbai police on January 5 in connection to the incident, according to news reports. The accused are two 21-year old men, one from Uttarakhand and the other from Bengaluru, and an 18-year-old woman from Uttarakhand.

“I am not ashamed, I am not afraid, I am not going to sit quietly because I am not doing anything illegal, anything immoral so I will do what I want to do, what I am doing. I am telling to our ladies – Muslim women now – do whatever you are doing, don’t step back, be strong,” one of the victims who lodged an FIR told MediaNama.

The Bulli Bai app incident is not the first time that Muslim women were auctioned online. Another app called ‘Sulli Deals’ had similarly listed Muslim women for auction back in July; however, the culprits haven’t been caught despite multiple police complaints and an Indian lawmaker writing to the IT Minister.

What actions are victims taking against the app?

“I decided that it should be ended this time, I will take the lead and I will pursue legal options – file an FIR, fight legally (sic),” the victim told MediaNama.

The FIR filed with the Hyderabad Police’s cyber crimes cell (which has been viewed by MediaNama) was lodged under Sections 67 of the IT Act which covers the publishing or transmission of obscene material in electronic form, 354(A) of the Indian Penal Code assault of criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty, and 509 related to word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman.

The second FIR was filed with the Cyberabad Police under sections 67 of the IT Act and 509 of the IPC.

“I am extremely disappointed with how little progress has been made on social media and online platforms to counter hate,” the other victim told MediaNama.

One of the victims also met with the chairperson of the Telangana State Women’s Commission on January 4, who said that she would write to the Central Bureau of investigation and the National Commission for Women about the matter.

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Who has been arrested in the case?

Police investigations suggest that the 18-year old woman arrested was the ‘mastermind’ behind the app – a Class 12 student who controlled ‘Bulli Bai’ and three more apps, NDTV has reported. Of the two men accused, one was a Bengaluru-based engineer while not much is known about the other accused. Apart from the other three accused, police suspect the involvement of a Nepali national, according to the Times of India.

“The woman who was arrested from Uttarakhand’s Rudrapur in the ‘Bulli Bai’ app case belongs to a poor family and her father is not alive. It seems she got involved in such activities for money,” Uttarakhand police chief Ashok Kumar is quoted as saying by NDTV.

What happened in the Sulli Deals case?

In the matter of the Sulli Deals controversy, here’s a snapshot of the events that transpired last year:

  • July 5: Responding to the outrage against the app on Twitter, GitHub COO Erica Brescia tweets that the account has been suspended.
  • July 6: An FIR is lodged by a woman against unknown persons for allegedly circulating pictures of several Muslim women without their consent on the GitHub-based application ‘Sulli Deals’.
  • July 7: Swati Maliwal, t writes a letter to the Deputy Commissioner, Cyber Cell of the Delhi Police demanding information about action that had been taken on the matter.
  • July 8: The National Commission of Women takes suo motu cognisance of the case and Chairperson Rekha Sharma writes to the Delhi Commissioner of Police asking him to inform them, within 10 days, about the action taken on the case.
  • July 12: A notice is served by a victim to Twitter Inc seeking, among other things, compensation of Rs 10 Lakhs for not taking action against content related to the ‘Sulli Deals’ app being shared on the platform.
  • July 15:  Another complaint is filed with the Delhi Police on the matter by a victim.
  • July 26: Anyesh Roy, DCP (Cyber Cell) reportedly says that, “We sent notices to GitHub but haven’t received a reply. Our team has approached them several times but there’s been no response.”

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Written By

I cover health technology for MediaNama but, really, love all things tech policy. Always willing to chat with a reader! Reach me at anushka@medianama.com

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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