The Delhi Police, on Thursday, made a fourth arrest in the Bulli Bai app case from Jorhat in Assam and have claimed that this development has solved completely the case related to hundreds of Muslim women being listed for "auction" on the "Bulli Bai" app on the Github platform.
The case has spread across different parts of the country, with the accused being arrested from Bengaluru, Uttarakhand and Assam. Meanwhile, the victims of the app were from all over India. It took the authorities of two states to put the matter to rest.
We take a look at how the case spun from Delhi to Bengaluru, to Mumbai to Uttarakhand to Assam.
Arrest from Assam
On Thursday, the Delhi Police, which was also investigating the case, nabbed Niraj Bishnoi, 21, an engineering student from Jorhat in Assam and brought him to the national capital where he confessed his role.
Giving details, Delhi Police said the Bulli Bai app was developed in November last year and updated in December. Bishnoi was also keenly monitoring social media.
A day before his arrest, Bishnoi had tweeted: "You have arrested the wrong person, Mumbai police."
"Lmao only one guy was ever involved and that's me. You pajeets arrested a follower of that acc with sikh dp, who had nothing to do with the app and didn't tweet anything wrong. Do you have even the slightest bit of shame slumbai pulis?"
Bishnoi disclosed during his interrogation that he created the Bulli Bai app on Github as well as the @bullibai_Twitter handle and others too, police said. The Twitter account was created on 31 December.
He also disclosed to the authorities that he had created another account @Sage0x1 for tweeting about the app.
According to Delhi Police, the operation to apprehend Bishnoi, a second-year B-Tech student at the Vellore Institute of Technology in the Madhya Pradesh capital, took 12 hours.
It has been learned that Bishnoi was known to be a bright student in college, but he never attended in-person classes at his engineering college.
Bishnoi’s parents have been left shell-shocked after his arrest.
Dasarath Bishnoi, the father, was quoted telling News18, "My son scored 86 percent from St Mary’s School in Jorhat. Though I don’t know much about the laptop, he was totally into it. The only time we saw him was at the dining table or for an occasional visit to the nearby Hanuman mandir on Tuesdays. He has no vices or wrong company as far as I know."
He added in the same report, "Delhi police along with Assam police came to our home around 11 pm last night. They came looking for Neeraj, who was inside. He even denied creating the app. They seized his mobile phone and laptop but did not find anything on the phone. They took him to Jorhat police station and told me that he will be taken to Delhi for further investigation."
Prior to Bishnoi’s arrest, the Mumbai police had made three other arrests — two from Uttarakhand and one from Bengaluru.
On 5 January, the Mumbai Police arrested Mayank Rawal (21) from Uttarakhand. According to a report in the Hindustan Times, Rawal reportedly promoted Bulli Bai on Twitter. After expressing displeasure over the material, he stopped it.
His arrest was preceded by 18-year-old Shweta Singh from Uttarakhand’s Udham Singh Nagar. At the time, the Mumbai Police had announced that was the mastermind behind the crime and had allegedly uploaded pictures of Muslim women on the app hosted on GitHub, using three different accounts.
According to an IndiaToday report, Shweta lost her father to COVID-19 last year and lost her mother to cancer before this. The report further stated that she was using a fake Twitter handle with the name JattKhalsa07 to upload hate posts and objectionable photos and comments.
Bengaluru’s the beginning
On 5 January, the Mumbai Police got the ball rolling when it made the first arrest in the case — 21-year-old civil engineering student Vishal Kumar from Bengaluru.
After being detained and then being brought to Mumbai, the cops had revealed that Kumar became friends with Shweta Singh through Instagram.
"Vishal changed his name on 31 December. He took up a name related to the Sikh community," the official had said.
Revisiting the incident
Hundreds of Muslim women were listed for auction on the Bulli Bai mobile application with photographs sourced without permission and doctored. The app appeared to be a clone of Sulli Deals which triggered a similar row last year.
On 2 January, the Delhi Police registered an FIR against unknown persons for allegedly uploading a doctored picture of a woman journalist on a website. The journalist had lodged a complaint and shared a copy on Twitter.
On her complaint, a case under sections 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and 354 A (sexual harassment and punishment for harassment) of the Indian Penal Code was registered at Cyber Police Station in Delhi Police's southeast district.
The Twitter accounts were suspended by the microblogging site and the app was also removed from Github platform. Technical assistance was provided to southeast district. The raw data analysis along with the technical details was undertaken and the suspect was identified to be based in Jorhat, police said.
With inputs from agencies