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Indian police arrest alleged creator of app targeting Muslim women

An open
source app on the Github platform called ‘Bulli Bai’ – a derogatory term to
describe Muslim women – had shared pictures of dozens of women without their
consent before it was taken down.

KPS
Malhotra, a police official in the capital New Delhi, said his team had
arrested a 20-year-old engineering student from Jorhat in the eastern state of
Assam after a probe that involved the state-run Computer Emergency Response
Team.

“He is
the person who had created the Bullibai app on Github. He had also created the
Twitter handle @bullibai_ and other handles,” Malhotra said.

Police in
the western city of Mumbai, who are also investigating the app, have separately
arrested three people this week, including two 21-year-old engineering students
and an 18-year-old woman.

Mumbai
police said they were investigating whether the app, which did not involve any
actual auctioning of people, was part of a “larger conspiracy”.

Several
Indian Muslim journalists were targeted by the app, including Ismat Ara who
filed and then shared on social media a police complaint on Sunday that said
the app was “designed to insult Muslim women”.

“After
today’s arrest by @DelhiPolice, I hope the culprits behind this elaborate
harassment of Muslim women, including journalists like myself, will ultimately
be caught & punished,” Ara said in a tweet on Thursday.

Muslims
account for around 14% of India’s 1.3 billion population. Some sections of the
community have been at odds with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration
and Hindu right-wing supporters, including over a controversial 2019
citizenship law that triggered large-scale protests.

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The youngest
of those arrested so far is from the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand. The
18-year-old began spending time on social media and made contact with Hindu right-wing
users after finishing her school-leaving exams last year, a local police
official who spoke to her earlier this week told Reuters.

The
official, who declined to be named, said she had told him that her actions were
based on Hindu right-wing ideology, which she had picked up on social media
platforms, including Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter.

“She
came to social media to distract herself but she kept getting entangled in
it,” the official said.

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