Guwahati, Jan 7: Last year, after the controversial 'Sulli Deals', another app emerged known as 'Bulli Bai' that has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Photos of influential Muslim women who were the target of this app were virtually 'auctioned' without their consent.
The case has spread across different parts of the country, the victims of the app were from all over India and four arrests have been made so far from Uttarakhand, Bengaluru and Assam.
All about 'Bulli Bai'
Prominent Muslim women including journalists, activists, students and lawyers who have been vocal on social and political matters of the country have found themselves on sale in an application called "Bulli Bai". Doctored photographs of the women, who spanned age groups, were put up on the Github hosting platform.
The app is similar to 'Sulli Deals' which triggered a controversial row last year. The doctored faces of influential Muslim women with a derogatory tagline that read "Sulli deal of the day" were put up. The word 'Sulli' is a derogatory term used against women. The app creators would use the photos illegally obtained from the women's social media handles and convince people to take part in the "auction".
How did the incident come to light?
The controversy surrounding the 'Bulli Bai' came to light on January 1 after some influential women active on social media, from the Muslim community, complained that their doctored photos were uploaded for sale online.
There has been a huge uproar on social media demanding strict action against its creators. The matter was also brought to the notice of IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw by Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi on Twitter. Chaturvedi said she has raised the matter with Mumbai Police, and demanded that the culprits should be booked at the earliest.
Opposition parties have also condemned the incident and called out the authorities to take strict against the creators. They further added that the inaction of the authorities during the 'Sulli Deals' have made these criminals brazen.
Based on a complaint by a journalist the Delhi Police on January 2 registered an FIR against unknown people for allegedly uploading a doctored picture of her on a website.
On her complaint, a case under sections 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and 354 A (sexual harassment and punishment for harassment) of the Indian Penal Code was registered at Cyber Police Station in Delhi Police's southeast district.
Action against 'Bulli Bai' and its creators
Following the FIR, the app was also removed from the Github platform and the Twitter accounts were suspended by the microblogging site. As per reports, technical assistance was provided to the authorities and with the help of the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), raw data analysis was conducted and it was found that the main suspect was based in Jorhat, Assam.
Initially, three arrests were made by the cyber cell of Mumbai Police. This includes 21-year-old student Mayank Rawal, 19-year-old Shweta Singh and engineering student Vishal Kumar Jha.
As per reports, Mayank was promoting Bulli Bai on Twitter, later expressing displeasure over the material, he stopped it. Shweta was accused of using a fake account to upload hate posts and objectionable photos and comments.
However, things took a turn when the Delhi Police registered an FIR based on a complaint by a Muslim woman who was also a target in the 'Bulli Bai' app. Following the raw data analysis, the police conducted a raid and nabbed Neeraj Bishnoi from Jorhat.
Reportedly, Bishnoi revealed to police that in October he created a list of women whom he wanted to defame online and accordingly he was tracing women activists all over social media and downloading their pictures.
During interrogation, he revealed that he was the one who created the controversial app on GitHub and also admitted to having created the Twitter handle @bullibai_ among others.
Bishnoi told the police that the GitHub app had been developed in November 2021 and was updated in December 2021. The Twitter account was created on December 31. He said he had also created an account @Sage0x1 to tweet about the app.
He was constantly monitoring updates on social media, he said. When the case began to be probed by the police, he created another Twitter account (@giyu44) and tweeted, "You have arrested the wrong person, Mumbai Police."
As told to the media by the Delhi Police, the operation to apprehend Bishnoi, a second-year B-Tech student at the Vellore Institute of Technology in the Madhya Pradesh capital, took 12 hours.
It has been learned that Bishnoi was known to be a bright student in college, but he never attended in-person classes at his engineering college.
He was presented in court on January 6 and sent to seven days of police custody.