Cops Arrest Students Linked to App ‘Selling’ Indian Muslim Women
(Bloomberg) -- Indian cops have arrested four college students for their alleged role in an app that “auctioned” hundreds of Muslim women, including journalists, activists and those openly critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on social media.
Police arrested Niraj Bishnoi, a 20-year-old software engineering student who created the GitHub-based open source app as well as social media accounts to popularize the auction, said K.P.S. Malhotra, deputy commissioner with the New Delhi police.
This arrest comes after local media reported earlier this week that Mumbai police nabbed two men and a women, aged between 18 to 21 years, for their suspected involvement in creating the social media handles to promote the app.
At the start of the year several women found their photos taken from their social media accounts and posted up for auction in the app called “Bulli Bai” -- a derogative term coined by online Hindu right wing trolls to describe Muslim women. The app has since been taken down, the government said.
The case is a reflection of rising anti-Muslim sentiment as Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party pushes the Hindu nationalist agenda ahead of crucial state polls in the next two months. Last month, video clips of a gathering of Hindu priests exhorting their followers to arm themselves against Muslims emerged on social media.
The outcome of these state polls, particularly in Uttar Pradesh that is controlled by hardline Hindu leader Yogi Adityanath’s government, will be an indicator of popular acceptance or rejection for religious polarization.
In most instances, investigations of hate speech against Muslims tend to fizzle out. A similar app to auction Muslim women emerged in May last year and the police have yet to make arrests on that case.
“The fact that it has happened for the second time and people have got emboldened says a lot,” said Sidrah Patel who filed a complaint with the police in Mumbai after her photo was uploaded on the app in January. “We need urgent intervention. We can’t have such young people, or anybody carrying so much hate. It is terrifying.”
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