The online “auction” of Muslim women was a “carefully strategised hate crime”, says an open letter addressed to Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana that appeals to him to take suo motu cognisance of the incident.
Photos of over 100 Muslim women, including prominent journalists, activists and thinkers, were uploaded on an app called “Bulli Bai” on Github and were subsequently “auctioned” as domestic helps on January 1, 2022. This is the fifth time in six months that such a sale has taken place online. Since May 2021, there have been “auctions” conducted on YouTube, another app on GitHub called “Sulli Deals”, Twitter and social audio app called Clubhouse.
“Given the colossal failure of the state machinery in adequately responding to such instances of hate crimes in the country, the onus now falls upon the Supreme Court to urgently intervene to safeguard the constitutional rights of minority communities and restore public faith in constitutional systems,” reads the letter which has been endorsed by over 5,000 activists, intellectuals and lawyers, among others.
The signatories have demanded that the apex court monitor the probe and prosecution in these offences, ensure that platforms such as Twitter and GitHub were not used for such illegal activities, and that the victims of these communal hate crimes were paid suitable compensation.
FIRs have been filed in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru following the latest auction. While Mumbai Police has made three arrests, Delhi police is yet take any action. No arrests have been made so far in the FIR filed in July 2021 after a “sale” on Bulli Bai app. Several women who have been targeted say police action has emboldened those behind the attacks.
“The public auction of Muslim women is an extreme form of vilification of Muslims. This only points to the utter moral bankruptcy in our society where communal elements openly target, bully and perpetuate sexual violence against women with alarming impunity. Read along with the public calls for genocide on the streets of Delhi earlier last year, and at the Dharam Sansad in Haridwar more recently, it is evident that instances such as these are carefully strategised hate crimes,” adds the letter.
It underlined that the auctions were an attempt to “degrade, dehumanise, vilify and demean” Muslim women and that Muslims were systematically being denied the opportunity to participate freely in public life as many women had been forced to delete their social media profiles following these attacks.