Two months after the Delhi and Uttar Pradesh police filed two different FIRs in the 'Sulli Deals' controversy, the case has reached a standstill with no progress in either arrest or investigation.
Neither has Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani publicly condemned the incident, Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi, who is one of the few politicians urging the Centre to take 'stringent action', told The Quint.
"Frankly, there are some issues that should rise above politics. More so when you hold a constitutional position of heading the Ministry of Women and Child Development. Speaking for rights of women – no matter which religion they belong to – is the duty of the minister."
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' – in July. Sulla or Sulli is a derogatory term used to refer to Muslims. The app has since been removed by GitHub.
"The cause here is bigger than any political agenda – which is sadly being ignored," she added.
'No Response From Govt Yet': Priyanka Chaturvedi
In her second letter urging government action, Chaturvedi on 30 July wrote to IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnav seeking 'urgent action' from the government in connection with the case.
“… I request you to take urgent and strict actions to deal with such nuisance so as to protect the dignity of women of our society as any responsible government should,” Chaturvedi wrote in her letter.
But, even after 10 days, there has been no official response from the ministry, she told The Quint.
"Women are constantly targeted online – irrespective of which religion you belong to. But in this case of Sulli Deals, there is a lot of intersectionality involved and people in positions of power are not taking the required action because women from a particular community have been victims."Priyanka Chaturvedi to The Quint
What's the Status of Investigation?
Uttar Pradesh Police registered an FIR 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.
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.
Not a single case has been made in connection with the case until now.
A Delhi Police officer, who is involved with the investigation, told The Quint:
"We have written to GitHub to give us more information about the app which was started. Our team has reached out to them several times over the last two months. A protocol has to be followed and it might take a few months for them to respond."
At least three Muslim women, whose photos were misused on the app, told The Quint that the cops evaded the questions when asked about the investigation or said that they have to wait for GitHub to respond.
'If Govt Can Ask Twitter to Respond Faster, Why Not GitHub'
Chaturvedi further asked that if the IT Ministry can summon other platforms like Twitter and Facebook – why not do the same for GitHub.
"There should be a policy in place against those who target women online. But that seems to be lacking here. For example, if the Centre and the IT Ministry can summon Twitter head or seek response from YouTube, why can't the same be done for GitHub? Other platforms are being moderated, digital news organisations are being moderated. Why hide behind and say that they are not responding?"Priyanka Chaturvedi to The Quint
"The solution cannot be that we have banned the app. If this is banned, then something else will come up. Where does this end? Why are cops refusing to take the case to a logical conclusion?" she added.
'Just Want Police To Be Fair': Women Featured on Sulli Deals
"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, a pilot who was featured on the Sulli Deals app told The Quint, one month after the investigation began.
Khan, who has filed the FIR with UP Police, has not been updated on the status of the investigation.
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 two months later, she is yet to hear from them about the status of the same.
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 and Hana, she too has not heard anything from the cops.
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