Image credit: BBC

Last year, police detained a man suspected of launching an app that sold images of more than 80 Muslim women online. In July 2021, the open-source app Sulli Deals was hosted on the web platform GitHub. The 25-year-old was apprehended just days after another app, Bulli Bai, released photographs of over 100 Muslim women.

Four students were arrested, including a 21-year-old student who is suspected of creating the second app.

There was no actual sale in either case, but the goal was to degrade and humiliate Muslim women, many of whom have come out against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s increasing wave of Hindu nationalism.

“Sulli” is a harsh Hindi slang name for Muslim women used by right-wing Hindu trolls, and “bull” is also disparaging.

After the Bulli Bai app sparked an uproar online, one of the women who had filed a police complaint in July said that no action had been taken yet by authorities in the capital Delhi.
Police in Indore, Madhya Pradesh’s central state, apprehended Aumkareshwar Thakur on Sunday.

Neeraj Bishnoi, the suspected creator of the Bulli Bai app, came up with Mr Thakur’s name during questioning.

According to KPS Malhotra, deputy commissioner of the Delhi Police’s cybercrime unit, Mr Thakur’s devices are being inspected.

Sulli Bargain used publicly available photos of women to establish profiles for them, portraying them as “deals of the day.”

The app featured journalists, activists, artists, and scholars who were all outspoken Muslims.
When one of the ladies, a commercial pilot, discovered the app, she felt “chills” down her spine.

Women whose images were shared without their consent, including many journalists, a Bollywood star, and the 65-year-old mother of a missing Indian student, had similar reactions to the Bulli Bai app.

According to Amnesty International research on online harassment in India, the more vocal a woman was, the more likely she was to be targeted; this was especially true for women from religious minorities and lower castes.

Trolling targeting Muslim women, according to critics, has gotten worse in recent years in India’s polarized political context.

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