The New Year began for many Muslim women in the most horrifying manner — they found their photos splashed all over an illegal site, Bulli Bai app, meant to ‘auction’ them to online bidders.
Days later, the authorities, both the Mumbai and Delhi Police have arrested four suspects, including the mastermind of the app.
As they investigated, it was been revealed that those behind the Bulli Bai app, also had links to the Sulli deals app — a similar site created last year in July, which was meant to humiliate Muslim women, mostly activists and journalists, by listing them for an auction.
We trace the links between the two.
Arrest in ‘Sulli Deals’ case
On Sunday, Delhi Police arrested a Madhya Pradesh man, who is the alleged creator of the application 'Sulli Deals'.
The accused, Aumkareshwar Thakur, was apprehended by the Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Operations (IFSO) of Delhi Police in Madhya Pradesh's Indore.
According to an IndiaToday report, 25-year-old Thakur confessed that he created the Sulli Deals app on GitHub in July 2021 and that there were more people involved in the case.
In January 2020, Thakur had joined a group called 'Trade Mahasabha' using the Twitter handle 'gangescion'. The group members would often discuss how to troll Muslim women, police said.
Reported information states that Thakur has done his BCA from IPS Academy and passed out in 2018.
Aumkareshwar's father, The Quint reported, believed in his son's innocence and was quoted as saying, “We never heard or witnessed any irregularity in his behaviour. My younger son has also done his BTech and is currently working in TCS, Indore. I thing he is being framed.”
The father has claimed that his son is being “trapped, and has been arrested only on the basis of claims of arrested people. I know nothing about this case”.
How Bulli Bai arrest led to Sulli Deals
Thakur’s arrest came after the Delhi Police nabbed 20-year-old Niraj Bishnoi, the suspected mastermind and creator of the ‘Bulli Bai’ app. He is also one of the promoters who propagated the website’s content on Twitter, for which he is believed to have created multiple handles.
The Delhi Police has revealed that Bishnoi was in touch with the creator of the Twitter handle “@sullideals”, which was used to create the 'Sulli Deals' app on GitHub.
His claim has been verified from the involvement of a Twitter account used by him in an FIR registered at Delhi’s Kishangarh police station.
A resident of Jorhat, who studies computer science engineering in Bhopal, Bishnoi, was the fourth person to be arrested for their alleged involvement in the case. The other three, nabbed by Mumbai Police, include a 19-year-old woman from Uttarakhand, also alleged to be a prime accused in the case.
It also emerged that the three others arrested from Bengaluru and Uttarakhand in the Bulli Bai apps case, have never met one another and connected with one another through social media.
What is Sulli Deals and Bulli Bai?
On 1 January, several Muslim women found themselves on 'auction' on an app called Bulli Bai. The app hosted by the GitHub platform had used their photographs, many of them doctored. According to the victims, the profiles, which contained images and other personal details of the victims, were created and being propagated without the consent of the women.
This, however, is not the first time that such as incident has occurred.
Earlier in July 2021, another app by the name of Sulli Deals had appeared on GitHub with pictures of Muslim women captioned 'deal of the day'.
Subsequently, on 7 and 8 July, police in Noida and Delhi had registered separate FIRs against unknown persons in the case, but nothing has come out of the investigations so far.
The term “sulli” is a derogatory word used to refer to Muslim women. The app was taken down following outrage by noted Muslim women who were on the app as well as others in civil society.
With inputs from agencies