'Sulli Deals': No Arrest Made Because We Are Muslim, Say Women Seeking Probe

Over one month and two FIRs later, no arrest has been made in connection with the 'Sulli Deals' app.

4 min read

Over one month and two FIRs – by the Delhi and Uttar Pradesh Police – later, not a single arrest has been made in connection with the 'Sulli Deals' controversy.

In a disturbing display of selective misogyny targeting Muslim women, photos of hundreds of them were uploaded by an unidentified group on an app using GitHub – by the name of 'Sulli Deals.'

Sulla or Sulli is a derogatory term used to refer to Muslims.

While the app came to light on 4 July, the Delhi Police filed an FIR after social media furor on 8 July.

At least three Muslim women, whose photos were misused on the app, told The Quint that no progress has been made in the investigation, and the cops evaded the questions when asked about the same.
Over one month and two FIRs later, no arrest has been made in connection with the 'Sulli Deals' app.

Screengrab of 'Sulli Deals' app on Github.

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@adabehindustan)


'What Message Does This Send?': Complainants Seek Action

Hana Mohsin Khan, a pilot by profession, told The Quint, that it was a deliberate attempt by the cops to not investigate as it concerned Muslim women.

"No one is taking it seriously. The cops are letting it pass because the tag of Muslim women is attached. When a small account talks about any politician in a derogatory way, they are immediately arrested or taken into task. But men who take photos of women and are posting them online, they don't have resources to catch them? It is unbelievable. It is deliberate and they simply do not want to do it."
Hana Mohsin Khan to The Quint

Uttar Pradesh Police registered an FIR on 6 July under Section 509 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) — insulting the modesty of a woman — and Sections 66 and 67 of the Information Technology Act — transferring obscene material — as sought by the complaint of Khan.

In Delhi, an FIR was registered under Section 354A (sexual harassment ) of the IPC on 8 July after the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) wrote to the cops, demanding action.

"Are they trying to indicate that they are incapable of using technology to find out who are the men who sourced not just one or two but photos of hundreds of Muslim women? What kind of message does this send? That taking our photos and auctioning it is state-approved?"
A Delhi-resident whose photos featured in 'Sulli Deals' app

'Cops Not Filing FIRs on Complaints'

Poet-activist Nabiya Khan filed a complaint with the Delhi Police seeking registration of an FIR. While her complaint was filed on 12 July, over a month later, she is yet to hear from them about the status of the same.

Nabiya's complaint sought an FIR under relevant sections of the IPC, The Information Technology Act and the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, in a statement said:

"This is hate crime which targets Muslim women to silence our voice and to deter our political participation. We were attacked, sexually harassed because of our religion and gender."
Nabiya Khan in a statement

According to India Ahead News, Kolkata resident Noor Mahvish filed her complaint about the 'Sulli Deals' app at the Lalbazar police headquarters on 9 July. As with Nabiya, one month later, she is yet to receive information about her case.

"I told them, ‘Please give me my complaint number or an FIR number at least. I have filed a complaint but I don’t know anything that is happening in my case. I had given them screenshots as evidence but the police said that they could not tell me anything because they did not have any information. They asked me whether I was called to the police station. I told them that I went on my own because ten days had passed and I had heard nothing from them."
Noor Mahvish to India Ahead News

'Matter Under Investigation': Delhi Police

Speaking to The Quint, DCW Chief Swati Maliwal said that the Delhi Police have informed her that GitHub, the hosting platform, was refusing to share data with her.

"The Delhi Police informed us that they have started investigating the matter but GitHub, the hosting platform, was refusing to share the data of the accused. Not satisfied with the reply, we had issued summons to the police for their inaction in identifying and arresting the accused."
Swati Maliwal, DCW Chief

GitHub is essentially a hosting platform, with a repository of open source codes. The app 'Sulli Deals' was created and used on GitHub.

"Now they have informed that they have started a process of seeking details from GitHub through a mutual legal treaty. DCW is following up the matter and will ensure that the guilty are punished," she added.

Maliwal has summoned the Deputy Commissioner of Police of the Delhi Police Cyber Cell Anyesh Roy for failing to provide information on the action taken in complaints. He has been asked to appear before the DCW on 18 August.

Meanwhile, speaking to The Indian Express, Roy said: "We sent notices to GitHub but haven’t received a reply. Our team has approached them several times but there’s been no response.”

The Quint has reached out to Delhi Police. The article will be updated when they respond.

"I want them to be fair. I ask them to to be just, take this more seriously because if they are not going to stop this now, it is going to be more unsafe for women and especially Muslim women. I want them to make an arrest and I want them to come to bottom of this. We need closure," Hana Mohsin Khan added, in response to the Delhi Police's statement.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
Read More