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Bulli Bai App Case- An Explainer

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The controversial Bulli Bai App case has been making headlines in recent weeks for allegedly targeting minority women, “auctioning” off Muslim women.

Read further for details.

What is the Bulli Bai App Controversy?

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Police have detained four people, including an 18-year-old girl from Uttarakhand, after nearly a week of inquiry into the Bulli Bai app case. In an attempt to harass and humiliate notable Muslim women journalists and activists, the Bulli Bai app placed them up for an online “auction”. The app functioned as a clone of the previously controversial Sulli Deals, using women’s images without their consent. Similar to Sulli Deals, the GitHub web platform hosted the open-source app.

Most of the targeted Muslim women have spoken out on numerous occasions on political and social concerns. On January 1, the app published doctored images of over 100 Muslim women. This sparked a tremendous outcry from the public. Several activists and politicians have demanded harsh punishment for the perpetrators. GitHub has since issued a statement, claiming to have suspended all such user accounts violating their policies.

Recent Developments

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In the latest development, Delhi Police arrested Neeraj Bishnoi, a computer science engineering student from Jorhat, Assam, on Thursday. Neeraj had also marketed the Bulli Bai app on Twitter through numerous accounts. Delhi police have named him the “main conspirator” in the case. According to an Independent UK report, a top Delhi police special cyber cell official, KPS Malhotra, has claimed that with this arrest, the case “has been solved completely”.

Mumbai police cyber cell has also arrested three people so far in connection with the investigation. The police first arrested Vishal Kumar Jha (21), a Bengaluru-based engineering student. His information led them to the next arrest of Shweta Singh (18) of Rudrapur, Uttarakhand. Lastly, Mayank Rawal (21) was detained in Uttarakhand by Mumbai police.

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A Mumbai court has remanded Vishal Jha in police custody until January 10. Vishal and Shweta met on social media, according to the Mumbai Police Department. Anyone with information on the Bulli Bai case is encouraged to contact the Mumbai Police Department.

Further, Mumbai police has revealed that Shweta Singh has a Nepal connection. She allegedly communicated with a Nepalese Twitter account and followed his instructions to create a Twitter account with the name @jattkhalsa07. Shweta’s Facebook acquaintance Giyou, whom she met on the platform, allegedly asked her to do all of this. The Mumbai Police Department is also looking into why some of the Twitter accounts promoting the app had Sikh-sounding names.

Two FIRs filed

The Delhi police and Mumbai police have filed one FIR each in the Bulli Bai app case. According to Bombay High Court advocate Satya Muley, these FIRs cite Sections 153A, 153B, 295A (insulting religious beliefs), 354D (stalking), 509, and 500 (criminal defamation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The reports also cite Section 67 (publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form) of the Information Technology (IT) Act.

Outrage against Government Inaction

Many netizens have taken to Twitter to claim that this “online auction” is a result of police inaction in the Sulli Deals case. Several women have also criticized the current BJP-led government for creating an intolerant environment in the country. Opposition parties have also lashed out at the government on the same grounds.

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