By Abdulla Gaafarelkhalifa
On New Year's Day, 2022, an app called Bulli Bai uploaded hundreds of photos of Muslim women in India to be “auctioned off,” in an attempt to degrade and harass them. Some of the women on the app are journalists and politicians.
If this seems like déjà vu, it isn't entirely. Bulli Bai is hosted by GitHub, the same app-sharing platform that hosted Sulli Deals last year, which did the same thing. Photos were taken from Muslim women’s social media accounts and the women were “auctioned off”, described as “deals of the day”. According to the BBC, “ Sulli is a derogatory Hindi slang term right-wing Hindu trolls use for Muslim women, and bulli is also pejorative.” Some described Bulli Bai as an exact clone to Sulli Deals.
Ismat Ara, a Journalist, shared a screenshot sent to her by a friend, showing her that she was being auctioned on the app.
It is very sad that as a Muslim woman you have to start your new year with this sense of fear & disgust. Of course it goes without saying that I am not the only one being targeted in this new version of #sullideals. Screenshot sent by a friend this morning.
Happy new year. pic.twitter.com/pHuzuRrNXR
— Ismat Ara (@IsmatAraa) January 1, 2022
Down the twitter thread from that post, the Delhi Police account wrote “The matter has been taken cognizance of. Concerned officials have been directed to take appropriate action.”
The matter has been taken cognizance of. Concerned officials have been directed to take appropriate action.
— #DelhiPolice (@DelhiPolice) January 1, 2022
Shiv Sena MP, Priyanka Chaturvedi, also responded to a concerned citizen about the app on twitter. She said she spoke to Mumbai Police and Commissioner Rashmi Karandikar about the matter. She assured the same concerned citizen that they are investigating the matter and ended her tweet saying that she hopes “those behind such misogynistic and sexist sites are apprehended.”
Have spoken to @CPMumbaiPolice and DCP Crime Rashmi Karandikar ji. They will investigate this. Have also spoken to @DGPMaharashtra for intervention. Hoping those behind such misogynistic and sexist sites are apprehended. https://t.co/Ofo1l9dgIl
— Priyanka Chaturvedi (@priyankac19) January 1, 2022
Delhi and Mumbai Police apprehended four individuals behind Bulli Bai on January 6. No names have been revealed yet, but we know that one is 18, another is 20, and two are 21. The older three are engineering students.
Delhi Police said they've captured the app's creator and the Twitter account associated with it. Mumbai police said they were investigating whether it was part of a "larger conspiracy" or not.