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Bulli Bai App Targeting Muslim Women Shut Down, Says Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw

The instance, the second time in a year, brings back the memories of a similar online auction of Indian Muslim women, called the “Sulli Deals”.

File photo of Union IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw. (Source: PTI)

New Delhi: A derogatory app where Muslim women were targeted and ‘auctioned’ off, called ‘Bulli Bai‘ was shut down and the GitHub user was blocked, a two-line terse message by IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw confirmed late Saturday night, and added that the authorities have been involved and CERT and Police authorities are looking into the matter.

“GitHub (the Microsoft-owned software-sharing platform used to build and run the ‘Bulli Bai‘ app) confirmed blocking the user this morning itself. CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team, an office within the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, or MEITY) and police authorities are coordinating further action,” Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw tweeted.

The instance was brought forward after a journalist Ismat Ara, who works for the publication-The Wire, said that she had approached Delhi police’s cyber crime unit after she found herself listed for ‘auction’ on the Bulli Bai application.

ALSO READ: ‘Sulli Deals’: A Month On, Muslim Women Ask Why No Arrests In Hate Crime

She in her complaint to the Cyber crime unit stated, “It is indeed disappointing to see the impunity with which such hate mongers continue to target Muslim women, without fear of sanction whatsoever. Based on tweets posted on the Delhi Police handle, I believe that Delhi police has ‘taken cognizance’ of this offence.”

“It is very sad that as a Muslim woman you have to start your new year with this sense of fear & disgust. Of course, it goes without saying that I am not the only one being targeted in this new version of ‘sulli‘ deals. Screenshot sent by a friend this morning,” Ismat Ara had tweeted.

According to an ANI report, Delhi Police registered an FIR under sector 509 of the Indian Penal Code on the complaint of the woman journalist. FIR has been registered in the Cyber Police station of the southeast district. Meanwhile, Mumbai Police has begun a probe following Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi’s request.

The instance, the second time in a year, brings back the memories of a similar online auction of Indian Muslim women, the “Sulli Deals”. Following weeks of outrage, media coverage and parliamentarians calling for police action, the app was take down.

This time an app named ‘Bulli Bai’ was allegedly found sharing pictures of hundreds of Muslim women and auctioning them, just months after unidentified people created a similar app ‘Sulli deals’.

Rajya Sabha MP and Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi, asked the IT minister to act against “rampant misogyny and communal targeting of women”.

After Vaishnaw’s reply to her tweet, Chaturvedi thanked the minister but urged him to more.

“Sir, Thank you. With due respect I had shared with you that besides blocking the platform punishing the offenders creating such sites is important. I hope the Home Minister’s Office and MEITY will support Mumbai Police to find these culprits and make them as well as platforms accountable,” she tweeted.

According to a PTI report, two FIRs, were filed by police in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh over the ‘Sulli Deals’ app but no significant action was taken against those responsible.

Interviews with police personnel suggest that they are pursuing one line of inquiry — getting information from GitHub regarding the people who created the application — but the US-based company has not responded to them. 

In an email response to India Ahead, GitHub had said, “GitHub responds to law enforcement requests that comply with established legal procedures. We informed India police of our policy in this case, and will assist upon receiving valid legal process from them.”

(With inputs from ANI and PTI)