In significant action taken in the Bulli Bai harassment case, wherein tens of Muslim women from India were targeted for ‘auction’ on an app, Mumbai police Tuesday arrested a 21-year-old man from Bengaluru. The arrest comes a day after the man, an engineering student, was detained in connection to the controversial app. As per reports, one other person has also been detained.
According to news agency ANI, the engineering student was questioned for over ten hours by officials from the Mumbai police cyber cell. Authorities said they are withholding further details about the accused to avoid jeopardising the investigation. NDTV has identified the man as one Vishal Jha, claiming that he was allegedly in touch with the “prime accused” in the case.
The two other people arrested in the case are identified in reports as 18-year-old Shweta Singh and 21-year-old Mayank Rawat from Uttarakhand. On Thursday, January 6, Delhi police reportedly arrested another 21-year-old identified as Neeraj Bishnoi.
Bishnoi is named as the alleged creator of the ‘Bulli Bai’ app.
On January 1, many Muslim women – including prominent journalists, writers, activists – found their names and photos morphed on an app hosted by open-source platform GitHub. The app described them as ‘Bulli Bai of the day’ in a virtual bid to ‘auction’ them off.
First Information Reports (FIRs) were filed in both Delhi and Mumbai following complaints raised with the police; the app was taken down from GitHub. The government’s Information Technology minister Ashwini Vaishnaw took cognisance of the matter on Twitter.
Suggested Reading: Who Is Behind The ‘Bulli Bai’ App? Here’s What We Know So Far
The ‘Bulli Bai’ harassment closely mirrors the attacks that happened last year July on the ‘Sulli Deals‘ app, which was also hosted by GitHub, where Muslim women were put up for ‘auction’ as deals of the day. GitHub had taken down the app and an FIR had reportedly been filed against unknown individuals in the case.
Survivors however say that six months on, they have not been updated of any breakthrough in the case. Read interviews here.
Maharashtra leader Satej Patil was quoted saying by the media that there is allegedly a group of people responsible for the ‘Bulli Bai’ harassment and that others with links to the app are from many parts of the country. It is believed that these people were allegedly enlisted by someone else to operate the attacks and links to political or other organisations are being probed.
As per the police, and as pointed out by a survivor to SheThePeople in an interview, the app was built to look like it had Sikh origins, with Punjabi text on its interface.