Hate Campaign Against Muslim Women In Sulli Deals’ New Version ‘Bulli Bai’ App

With the onset of the new year, Muslim women from the country woke up to a horror where they found ‘auctions’ happening on their names on an application called the Bulli Bai app. This came a few months after the Sulli Deals website, which also similarly attempted to auction Muslim women online. The women on this list were predominantly women who were vocal about social issues and critical of the present regime in power. 

Delhi-based journalist, Ismat Ara was one of those listed in the app, and she on January 1, filed a cybercrime case with the Delhi police. So far, four people have been arrested in relation to the case. 21-year-old Niraj Bishnoi is alleged to be the creator of the app, while 18-year-old Shweta Singh from Uttrakhand was touted as the mastermind, with her aide, 21-year-old, Vishal Jha. The third arrest in the case was Mayank Aggarwal from Uttrakhand an aide of Shweta and Vishal. Both Mayank and Shweta were brought to Mumbai on Friday, January 7. 

Jha and Bishnoi were pursuing engineering, while Singh has finished her Class 12 examinations. Bishnoi has been named the main accused in the case. He was arrested by Delhi’s special cell Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Operations (IFSO). 

This comes after there were no pertinent actions against the creators or suspects in the Sulli Deals case that also tried to auction Muslim women to online bidders in July 2021. The case then was handled by Delhi Police alone. Sulli is a derogatory term used for Muslim women. 

Vishal and Bishnoi are engineering students, Vishal studied in Bengaluru while Niraj was studying at Vellore Institute of Technology. Bengaluru. Recent reports have claimed that Bishnoi was also active during the Sulli Deals. He apparently, created a fake profile posing as a reporter and played as a witness to Delhi Police. He also contacted other reporters to spread misinformation regarding the case. 

He hails from Assam and was arrested from his home on Wednesday. 

On the other end, Shweta Singh, identified as an 18-year-old woman who was nabbed by Mumbai police on Tuesday. She was considered the prime suspect until Bishnoi was brought into the limelight by Delhi Police. 

According to a report in India Today, Shweta lost both her parents at an early age. Her father succumbed to the pandemic and lost her mother to cancer. She has three siblings, an elder sister, a sister, and a brother both younger to her. She’s a commerce graduate as per the same report. In an interview with Newslaundary, her elder sister Manisha had said that Shweta did not have any ill feelings towards any community although she was fond of the ‘Hindu culture’. She also claimed that not-so-bright student Shweta could not have been part of this. 

Earlier it was believed that she was in connection with the Nepal national whose Internet account, was identified as Giyou but later it turned out that it was Bishnoi operating from the account. However, she was in charge of three accounts. Also, these accounts were very carefully named after Sikh names, in order to cover it up as an initiative by the Sikhs with links to Khalistanis. 

Both the students have been suspended from their respective colleges and even the colleges have cleared their hands claiming they brought disrepute to their institutions. Bishnoi’s father has told the media that his son is being charged with fake charges, and has no clue on what is happening with his son. 

However, he also elaborated on his son’s day-to-day activities claiming he used to be busy with his laptop every hour of the day. And, has been stressed over the past three days. He also claimed that he used to regularly watch a news channel, which he left an hour ago, and that might have had an impact on him. Currently, Niraj is in police custody. 

On Sunday morning, the Delhi Police made its first arrest in the Sulli Deals case, which came out in which FIR was filed back in July 2021. The accused has been identified as Aumkareshwar Thakur, from Indore, Madhya Pradesh. He is believed to be the creator of the app, after which he shared it on a Twitter group, where members shared similar hatred towards Muslim women.

The Bulli Bai app is not the only incident in the past years that have targeted hate speech against Muslim women. Women from all walks of life have been regularly targeted with cyber harassment, however, this case cannot be seen as a case of harassment alone. It has been organised and carefully executed against only Muslim women, which is a result of deep-rooted Islamophobia. It was also aimed at creating a communal disharmony between Muslims and Sikhs in the country. 

Investigations are still on understanding how this entire system was funded and the hate campaign was executed. 

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