The Delhi Commission For Women on Monday asked police officers to appear before it later in the week in the case related to doctored photographs of Muslim women being posted online to harass and insult them through an auction.

The women’s panel letter to the police said that it had taken suo motu cognisance of the matter. “...the Delhi Commission for Women is appalled to note that no persons have been arrested in the “Sulli Deal” matter by the Delhi Police despite passage of several months,” it read.

The women’s commission described the lack of action as “a callous attitude of the law enforcement agency”. It added that this had “emboldened the culprits and others who are continuing to ‘sell’ women and girls online!”

This is the second time in a span of a year that such an app has been created. In July, an app called “Sulli deals” had posted hundreds of images of Muslim women for “online auction”. “Sulli” is a derogatory term used to refer to Muslim women.

The new app, named “Bulli Bai”, reportedly works in a similar way as “Sulli Deals”. Muslim women with a number of followers on Twitter have been targeted on both the apps, which were uploaded on repository hosting service GitHub.

On Sunday, the Delhi and Mumbai police filed first information reports against the online application.

The women’s panel also sought details in the online harassment cases, including about the arrests made along with the reasons for not arresting anyone. “Also, please provide the timeline for arrest of the accused person,” the letter said.

The commission also asked about steps taken by the police to make sure that such content is not posted on any platform. The panel also sought the current status of the inquiry in the “Sulli deals” case.

The National Commission for Women had also written to the police to expedite action in the case.

Meanwhile, the Delhi Police on Monday said it had asked for details from the GitHub platform about the creator of the “Bulli Bai” mobile application, reported PTI. The police have also written to Twitter for information about the person who handles the account and had first posted about the app.

“We have also asked Twitter to remove and block any such offensive contents from its platform immediately which are shared through the alleged app and are related to the entire controversy,” a police officer told PTI.

Congress, BJP leaders call for strict action

Earlier on Monday, Congress leaders called for strict action against the accused persons who set up an online application that allegedly put up doctored photographs of Muslim women to harass and insult them through an auction.

“Strongly condemn this disgusting harassment of Muslim women,” Mallikarjun Kharge said in a tweet. “This is the result of repeated dehumanisation of minorities by the BJP leadership. Why were previous instances of similar harassment ignored? I hope this time, strongest action against the guilty will be taken.”

Maharashtra minister and Congress leader Satej D Patil said the Mumbai Police was “keeping no stone unturned to find the criminals behind [the] heinous” application.

However, Patil questioned Union Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw about whether action was taken in the “Sulli deals” case.

“Were the platforms involved informed about these handles by [the] central government?” he asked in a tweet. “All these platforms are headquartered outside India. What provisions do we have for data transfer? Was MLAT invoked in this case?”

He also noted that the Centre had introduced rules for digital media platforms last year. “...but if they are not used in such cases to prevent crime against women and children, then what is the use of them?” he asked in a separate tweet.

In July, a first information report was lodged based on a complaint received on the National Cybercrime Reporting Portal against the app, the Delhi Police Cyber Cell had said. However, the police have not made any arrests yet in the “Sulli deals” case.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that any “cyber criminal communal conspiracy” against India’s culture would not succeed, reported PTI. He said that such targeting was unacceptable and that the Centre had been taking action in the matter.

Strict action is being taken against such criminals and their “communal conspiracy” would be exposed soon, the Union minister said.