Explained: What is bulli bai controversy?
New Delhi, Jan 04: Several Muslim women in India welcomed New Year 2022 with a horrific sight on social media, their own photos uploaded on an app called 'Bulli Bai' meant to "auction" them to online bidders. The issue came to the fore after some prominent Muslim women, including journalists complained that their doctored photos were uploaded for sale online on the Github hosting platform.
The incident comes barely six months after the 'sulli deals' controversy, that was created by an unidentified group on a code hosting platform -GitHub.
The app displayed a Muslim woman's face and a tagline below it that read "Sulli deal of the day". 'Sulli' is a derogatory term used against women.
What is Bulli Bai app?
"The 'Bulli Bai' app is similar to 'Sulli Deals', which had triggered a row last year by offering users a 'sulli', an insulting term used for women. Once you open it, you randomly find doctored faces of influential Muslim women being displayed as Bulli Bai. These photos are illegally obtained from the women's social media handles and ask people to take part in the "auction".
Muslim women with a strong presence on Twitter, including journalists, have been singled out and their photos uploaded.
"Bulli Bai" was promoted by a Twitter handle with the name @bullibai, with its display picture of a "Khalistani supporter", and saying women can be booked from the app.
Is 'Bulli Bai' a clone of Sulli Deals?
Hundreds of Muslim women were listed for "auction" on the app with photographs sourced without permission and doctored. It has happened for the second time in less than a year. The app appeared to be a clone of Sulli Deals which triggered a similar row last year.
Outrage mounts over 'Bulli Bai' app
Politicians, netizens and women's rights groups demanded strict action against the makers of the app and many blamed it on right-wing elements.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi called upon people to raise their voice against "'insult of women" and communal hatred.
Many netizens took to Twitter to raise the issue.
"The Indian government, police, media, society at large ignored Sulli deals. And now you have #BulliDeals, a horrifying cruel depraved sadistic "auction" of Muslim women using their pictures. The more you ignore these things, the more sure you can be that it'll be your family soon," a netizen tweeted.
Govt to act against 'Bulli Bai' app
As the issue snowballed, IT Minister Vaishnaw tweeted on Sunday, "Government of India is working with police organisations in Delhi and Mumbai on this matter."
Police of both the metropolitan cities have registered cases in the matter.
NCW chief Rekha Sharma, on Twitter, "noted" a tweet from a journalist whose photo was used in the app. The journalist also raised a complaint with the Cyber Cell of the Delhi Police.
"@NCWIndia has taken cognizance of this incident. Chairperson @sharmarekha has written to @CPDelhi to immediately register FIR in the matter. The process must be expedited so that such crime is not repeated," the NCW tweeted.
The Delhi Police has registered an FIR against unknown persons for allegedly uploading a doctored picture of the woman journalist on a website.
An official said Mumbai Cyber police has also registered an FIR against developers of 'Bulli Bai' app and Twitter handles that promoted this application. The case was registered on Saturday under sections 354-D (stalking of women), 500 (Punishment for defamation) and other sections of the Information Technology Act, he said. The West region of Cyber Police registered the FIR against Twitter handle holders and the 'Bulli Bai' app developers hosted on GitHub," the official said.
Engineering student detained from Bengaluru
In a latest development, Mumbai cyber police have detained a 21-year-old engineering student from Bengaluru in connection with the 'Bulli Bai' app case. He is being questioned by the police.