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Fourth person arrested in Bulli Bai app case alleged to be ‘mastermind’: Report

The app sparked outrage as it targetted Muslim women by uploading their photographs without their knowledge.

A fourth person has been arrested in connection with the Bulli Bai app on January 6 by the Delhi Police, according to an NDTV report. The accused, a 21-year old engineering student at the Vellore Institute of Technology, is allegedly the main conspirator and creator of the app which listed over 100 Muslim women in an online auction.

He is the owner of a GitHub account (on which the app was hosted) and the app’s main Twitter handle. The other three accused did not name him and the arrest took place after ‘massive’ technical surveillance, including tracking his IP address, a police source told The Print.

The Delhi Police had approached Twitter for information on the apps’ creators; however, Twitter asked them to apply through the proper channel as it was not a ‘national security matter’, The Indian Express reported. Earlier, IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw had tweeted that GitHub has blocked the user.

This is the second such incident of Muslim women being auctioned online after a similar app called Sulli Deals was created in July. Despite multiple police complaints and appeals to the IT Minister, no individuals have been arrested in the Sulli Deals case.

What complaints have been filed against the app?

Four FIRs have been filed so far by the Hyderabad, Cyberabad, Mumbai, and Delhi police, based on complaints by victims against the creators of the app.

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In Delhi, the FIR was filed under Section 67 of the IT Act which covers publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form and Indian Penal Code Sections 153 A related to promoting enmity between different religious groups, 153 B for Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration, 354 (A) for assault of criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty and 509 which deals with a word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman.

In Mumbai, the FIR was filed under Section 67 of the IT Act, and IPC sections 153, 153B, and 509. Other sections were 295A related to insulting religious beliefs, 354D for stalking and 500 related to criminal defamation.

The Hyderabad FIR was filed under sections 67 of the IT Act and IPC Sections 354(A) and 509 while the Cyberabad police FIR has been filed under the IT Act’s Section 67 and IPC Section 509.

What happened in the Sulli Deals case?

In the matter of the Sulli Deals controversy, here’s a snapshot of the events that transpired last year:

  • July 5: Responding to the outrage against the app on Twitter, GitHub COO Erica Brescia tweets that the account has been suspended.
  • July 6: An FIR is lodged by a woman against unknown persons for allegedly circulating pictures of several Muslim women without their consent on the GitHub-based application ‘Sulli Deals’.
  • July 7: Swati Maliwal, chairperson of the Delhi Women’s Commission writes a letter to the Deputy Commissioner, Cyber Cell of the Delhi Police demanding information about action that had been taken on the matter.
  • July 8: The National Commission of Women takes suo motu cognisance of the case and Chairperson Rekha Sharma writes to the Delhi Commissioner of Police asking him to inform them, within 10 days, about the action taken on the case.
  • July 12: A notice is served by a victim to Twitter Inc seeking, among other things, compensation of Rs 10 Lakhs for not taking action against content related to the ‘Sulli Deals’ app being shared on the platform.
  • July 15:  Another complaint is filed with the Delhi Police on the matter by a victim.
  • July 26: Anyesh Roy, DCP (Cyber Cell) reportedly says that, “We sent notices to GitHub but haven’t received a reply. Our team has approached them several times but there’s been no response.”

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I cover health technology for MediaNama, among other things. Reach me at anushka@medianama.com

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