The Mumbai Police on Tuesday arrested Vishal Kumar, a 21-year-old engineering student who had been detained from Bengaluru on Monday, in connection with a new app on which more than 100 prominent Muslim women were listed for an “online auction”, ANI reported.
A Bandra court sent Kumar to police custody till January 10, according to the news agency.
Meanwhile, the police have also taken a woman from Uttarakhand, 18-year-old Shweta Singh, into custody in connection with the case, ANI reported. The Uttarakhand Police said that the procedure for her transit remand is underway at Rudrapur police station.
The woman was allegedly handling three accounts related to the open source app, “Bulli Bai”. Photos of the Muslim women were taken from their social media accounts without permission and displayed on the app for “sale” as “Bulli Bai” of the day. The app, which was hosted on web platform GitHub, has since taken it down following outrage on social media.
“Co-accused Vishal Kumar opened an account [on the app] by the name ‘Khalsa supremacist’, Mumbai Police said on Tuesday, according to ANI. “On December 31, he changed the names of other accounts to resemble Sikh names. Fake Khalsa account holders were shown.”
This was the second attempt in months to harass Muslim women in the country by “auctioning” them online.
In July, an app called “Sulli Deals” had posted hundreds of images of Muslim women and described them as “deals of the day”. Both “Bulli” and “Sulli” are derogatory words used to refer to Muslim women.
The police in Noida and Delhi had registered separate cases in connection with the “Sulli Deals” app but no arrests have been made so far.
On Sunday, the Mumbai and Delhi police had registered a first information report against unknown culprits under Indian Penal Code Sections 153A (promoting enmity between groups based on religion), 153B (assertions that damage national integrity), 354A (punishment for sexual harassment), and 509 (insult to modesty of a woman) for the “Bulli Bai” auction.
Additionally, the Mumbai Police had also invoked Indian Penal Code Sections 295A (malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings) and 500 (defamation) and Section 67 (punishment for publishing lewd content) of the Information Technology Act.
Meanwhile, the Delhi Commission For Women on Monday wrote to the police, asking why no accused person was still arrested in the “Sulli Deals” matter.
The women’s commission described the lack of action as “a callous attitude of the law enforcement agency”. The commission also asked about steps taken by the police to make sure that such content is not posted on any platform.