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'Bulli Bai' app case: Three arrested so far, says Mumbai Police

The Mumbai police had registered a FIR against unidentified persons following complaints that doctored photographs of hundreds of Muslim women were uploaded for ‘auction’ on the app.

January 05, 2022 02:08 pm | Updated 09:49 pm IST - Mumbai

The ‘Bulli Bai’ mobile app presented women as ‘deals of the day’.

The ‘Bulli Bai’ mobile app presented women as ‘deals of the day’.

 

The Mumbai Police on Wednesday said that so far three people had been arrested in connection with the ‘Bulli Bai’ app, which targeted Muslim women by putting up their photos online for auction.

Addressing a press conference, Mumbai Police Commissioner Hemant Nagrale also expressed displeasure over comments made on the ongoing investigation by authorities outside Maharashtra. “Generally, we don’t speak on cases outside our State. It is better not to issue a statement if one has no detailed information about the case,” he said, adding that the comments had been unnecessary.

Mayank Rawal (21) was arrested by the Mumbai Police from Uttarakhand in the early hours of Wednesday in the case. Shweta Singh (19) was arrested on Tuesday from the same State, while engineering student Vishal Kumar Jha (21) was held from Bengaluru on Monday. The police suspect that more people are likely to be involved in the matter.

Mr. Nagrale, when asked about similar complaints, said that the force will take cognisance of the matter, irrespective of which community is affected. He did not comment on the investigation by Delhi Police in the ‘Sulli Deals’ case and whether the present probe had connections to the one carried out by the Delhi Police. Mr. Nagrale maintained that the Mumbai Police’s investigation was barely three days old and it would not be possible to connect the two cases at the moment.

Mr. Nagrale said that the police were also probing why some of the Twitter handles which promoted the app used Sikh-sounding names. Some of these handles had names such as “Khalsa Supremacist”, “Jatinder Singh Bhullar”, “Harpal” and “Sage”, he said.

“The probe is on and anyone involved in the crime directly or indirectly will be arrested and prosecuted. As the investigation is of a sensitive nature, we will not be able to share more details,” he said, assuring that the cyber cell will go to the root of the matter.

“As per the status of the handle [linked to the app], it says Bulli Bai is a community-driven open source app by the Khalsa Sikh force. So why this is there — that is part of our investigation. It is too early to say exactly what was the aim of the entire exercise,” he added.

The Mumbai Police registered a first information report (FIR) after receiving a complaint about the app on January 2, following which investigators started a technical analysis of the app and the related Twitter handle, Mr. Nagrale said. This Twitter handle, bearing the same name as the app, had been created to promote the app’s website on social media.

“During the technical analysis, we collected information on the followers of the app and launched a hunt for the accused,” he said, adding that Bengaluru-based Vishal Kumar Jha, a second-year engineering student, was one of the five followers of the handle.

If any person wanted to share information about the case, he or she could contact the Mumbai Cyber Police, Mr. Nagrale said. “The police will find out who was the mastermind, what was the motive, whether the arrested accused were paid, and who paid them,” Mr. Nagrale said.

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