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#BulliBai: Did Police Inaction in 'Sulli Deals' Encourage A Repeated Offence?

More than 100 Muslim women in India woke up to a new year and found themselves on sale.

Published
Podcast
2 min read

Imagine waking up to a new year and finding yourself on sale. Your photograph has been used without your permission on an app where you're listed for an online auction.

That's exactly how more than 100 Muslim women in India were greeted on the morning of 1 January 2022.

Muslim women with significant social media following, including several activists and journalists, found themselves being auctioned off by anonymous accounts through a web page on GitHub called 'Bulli Bai'.

Screenshots shared by some of the targets show their photos and Twitter handles, and had the message 'Your Bulli Bai for the day.'

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But as disturbing as this is, unfortunately, it's the second time in less than six months that such a despicable thing has happened, where women have been targeted for their religious and gender identities, without a single arrest made in the incidents.

As the repeated offence raked up massive outrage on social media platforms once again, the app was taken down. In terms of police actions so far, the Delhi and Mumbai cyber teams have filed separate FIRs against unknown persons with charges of sexual harassment, intentions to insult the modesty of a woman, promoting enmity on grounds of religion, and imputations prejudicial to national integration. At the time of the recording of this podcast, no arrest was made in the cases.

The Delhi Police has also sought information from Twitter about the account that first tweeted about the 'Bulli Bai' app as well as information about the app developer from GitHub platform.

But does all this inspire confidence, given the police inaction in the first incident? Is it the same inaction that has emboldened the culprits towards a repetition of such misogynistic and Islamophobic harassment at a time when attacks on minorities are at an all time high in the country?

In this episode, you’ll hear from Arshi Qureshi and Fatima Khan, who were targeted in the Bulli Bai app, as they narrate their harrowing experience.

We will also be speaking to cyber security experts Apar Gupta, executive director of Internet Freedom Foundation, and Karan Saini, a Bengaluru-based security analyst, to understand what course of action should the police ideally be taking, how exactly the GitHub functions, and where the accountability lies?

Tune in!

(The Mumbai Police has detained a 21-year-old Bengaluru man in connection with the case.)

(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.)

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