After photographs of at least 100 influential Muslim women were uploaded for auction on an app sparked widespread outrage, IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has said GitHub, the hosting platform, has confirmed blocking the user and that CERT and police authorities are coordinating further action.
The uploading of pictures on the ‘Bulli Bai’ app was similar to the ‘Sulli Deals’ upload in July last year. The ‘Bulli Bai’ app worked just the same way as Sulli Deals did. Once opened, a Muslim woman’s face was randomly displayed as Bulli Bai. Muslim women with a strong presence on Twitter, including journalists, have been singled out and their photos uploaded.
Two FIRs were filed by the Delhi and Uttar Pradesh Police in the Sulli Deals incident last year after photos of Muslim women were misused, but no concrete action has been taken against the perpetrators so far. Like ‘Bulli Bai’, the ‘Sulli Deals’ was also hosted on GitHub. Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi on Saturday flagged the ‘Bulli Bai’ app to Mumbai police as well as Vaishnaw for action, including the arrest of the culprits.
In a tweet late on Saturday evening, Vaishnaw said, “GitHub confirmed blocking the user this morning itself. CERT and Police authorities are coordinating further action”. Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) is the nodal agency that deals with cyber security threats. He did not elaborate on the action being taken. Vaishnaw on Sunday tweeted: “Govt. of India is working with police organisations in Delhi and Mumbai on this matter”.
The Union government had cited offending content against women as one of the reasons for framing the new digital rules that called for intermediaries for identifying the user hosting the offensive content within 24 hours. It isn’t clear if the same rules were used in ‘Sulli Deals’ and are being invoked in the case of ‘Bulli Bai’ to ask the hosting platform to identify the user for taking action.
On Saturday, Chaturvedi had also tagged the IT Minister, asking him to take stern action against such “rampant misogyny and communal targeting of women”. Those who flagged ‘Sulli Deal’ wanted Mumbai police, and not Delhi police, to take cognisance of the offence and take action. Some said they had little faith in Delhi police acting against the culprits.
Delhi police work under the Union Home Ministry.
“Have spoken to @CPMumbaiPolice and DCP Crime Rashmi Karandikar ji. They will investigate this. Have also spoken to @DGPMaharashtra for intervention. Hoping those behind such misogynistic and sexist sites are apprehended,” Chaturvedi had tweeted. “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,” Chaturvedi had tweeted on Saturday.
Reacting to the development, Mumbai Police said they have taken cognisance of the matter and that concerned officials have been asked to take action. Mumbai cyber police have initiated a probe in connection with the objectionable content, an official had said.