Following outrage over a new app that puts out a list of Muslim women up for ‘auction’ along with their photographs , Union Minister for Electronics and IT Ashwini Vaishnaw on Sunday said the government is working with the local police in Delhi and Mumbai on the matter.
The app ‘Bulli Bai’, which has now been removed, was hosted on GitHub. It is the second such instance in almost six months wherein Muslim women have been put up for ‘auction’ along with photographs largely from their social media accounts without permission. In July, last year, such pictures were shared on an app called ‘Sulli deals’, which was also hosted on GitHub, with the phrase ‘Sulli deal of the day’.
A complaint with regards to the ‘Bulli Bai’ app has been filed with the Delhi as well as Mumbai police. While FIRs were filed in the case of ‘Sulli Deals’ as well, no concrete action against those behind the app has come out yet.
“Govt. of India is working with police organisations in Delhi and Mumbai on this matter,” Mr. Vaishnaw tweeted. Earlier, replying to Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi, who had raised the issue, the Minister had said, “GitHub confirmed blocking the user this morning itself. CERT and Police authorities are coordinating further action.”
However, he did not offer more details. Many women, whose pictures were misused, also took to social media platforms such as Twitter to share their trauma and anger over the issue.
“The creator of such an app is doing something illegal. But those who are allowing such applications to run or be hosted on their platform/cloud cannot be absolved of their responsibility. It is their moral as well as professional responsibility to shut such things down, which is not a very difficult thing to do,” Sanchit Vir Gogia, Founder & CEO, Greyhound Research said.
Ms. Chaturvedi, giving an update on the issue, said, “On 01/01/2020, West Region Cyber police Station, Mumbai has registered CR No.01/2022, U/S 153(A), 153(B), 295(A), 354D, 509, 500 IPC r/w 67 IT Act against above mentioned twitter handle holders and ‘Bulli Bai’ app developer hosted on GitHub.”
“I have repeatedly asked Hon. IT Minister @AshwiniVaishnaw ji to take stern action against such rampant misogyny and communal targeting of women through #sullideals like platforms. A shame that it continues to be ignored,” the Shiv Sena MP tweeted, adding that besides blocking the platform, punishing the offenders creating such sites was important.