In the last few days, three Bulli Bai App case accused have been nabbed by the Mumbai Police, the latest being a 21-year-old man from Uttarakhand. The other two accused in this case are 21 and 18 years old. Many are surprised at the involvement of three young people in this case. But is this development indeed astounding?
At the start of this year, Muslim women across social media reported being targetted by what seemed like an “online auction”. It was all a rehash of the Sulli Deals case from earlier last year. However, this time their concerns were finally addressed by politicians and police, resulting in quick action.
The first arrest in the case came in the form of a student from Bengaluru named Vishal Kumar Jha, who led the police to the alleged mastermind behind the app- Shweta Singh. It was later reported that Singh is an 18-year-old from Kotwali, Uttarakhand. One of four siblings, Singh lost her father to COVID-19 last year. She had lost her mother earlier to cancer.
According to Ashok Kumar, Uttarakhand Police Chief, Singh was arrested from Uttarakhand’s Rudrapur and belongs to a poor family. “It seems she got involved in such activities for money,” he added. Read more about Shweta Singh here.
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On January 5, a third arrest was made- a student from Uttarakhand named Mayank Rawal. The involvement of such young individuals in the case has baffled many. But the truth is, there have been red flags all along to tell us that young minds are not immune to hatred and abusive behaviour that has been fuelled by the privilege of anonymity which social media grants.
Remember the rape threats made against minor daughters of cricketers Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni? In both cases, the accused were young men- 23 and 16 years old respectively. Remember the Lucknow girl viral video? The woman seen in it, trashing a cab driver, is supposedly a young lecturer affiliated with the University of Lucknow. These are just some of the incidences of young men and women involved in toxic behaviour that we seldom associate with the age group.
But where is this toxicity coming from? What is breeding this hate? Moreover, is it just hate that is propelling young minds towards antisocial behaviour?
As pointed out by Kumar, money could be a possible angle and we need to acknowledge that it could be a bigger motive than hatred for a certain community or sheer rage. In times when avenues for money seem to be shrinking by the hour, when many families have lost their primary breadwinners to the deadly pandemic, and when a parallel world exists on social media that flaunts riches and luxury without any inhibition, earning good money, that too very quickly, can’t be ruled out as a strong motive for any young person to get derailed.
Suggested Reading: Who Is Behind The “Bulli Bai” App? Here’s What We Know So Far
While these individuals might not outright “hate” the women targetted, maybe, they felt no empathy for them either, or felt the their pain was worth the gain. Having said that, we cannot deny that the entire episode is proof of vitriolic hate that has crept into a section of our society. While these young minds, who are behind the auctioning app, might have done it to make quick bucks (which remains to be proved), those who participated in these auctions did so because they were bigots and misogynists.
We have to take all the aspects of the incident into consideration if we truly want to get to the roots of this case. Just talking about hate and selective targeting is not enough, we have to ask who is fuelling it and who stands to gain from it? These questions could hold the answer to the biggest question of all- how can we prevent the descent of young minds into the world of absolute hatred, where you are either an abuser or an opportunist?
Views expressed are the author’s own.