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Muslim women’s auction app case: SC seeks response from states on key accused’s plea to club FIRs

Aumkareshwar Thakur faces FIRs in Delhi, UP and Maharashtra

12 Aug 2022

Sulli deals

On Friday, the Supreme Court sought a response from the states of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra to a plea filed by Aumkareshwar Thakur, the key accused in the S**li Deals and B**li Bai app cases, to club multiple First Information Reports (FIRs) filed against him.  

Readers would recall that both the apps, S**lli Deals (July 2021) and B**li Bai (January 2022), were used to target independent thinking and vocal Muslim women by putting up their images as part of a virtual auction.

Aumkareshwar Thakur who had been arrested from Indore by the Delhi police in January, had moved SC demanding that all the FIRs against him be clubbed together. However, a bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh pondered over the possibility of doing so, given how different FIRs included different charges related to the creation of the two apps.

According to Bar and Bench, Justice Kaul remarked, “There are different offences. One is sulli deals and another is Bulli bai. Can different offences be clubbed? You have uploaded photos of various people and each is an aggrieved party.” Further noting that there were multiple uploads, he inquired, “You are saying in respect of each website there are different proceedings. Can you say whatever uploaded is confined to one place?”

On March 28, 2022, Dr. Pankaj Sharma, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) of Patiala House Court in Delhi granted bail to Aumkareshwar Thakur (26), the alleged creator of ‘S**li Deals’ app as well as Neeraj Bishnoi (21), alleged creator of ‘B**li Bai’ app. After bail had been first refused in January 2021, chargesheets had been filed against the ‘prime accused’ Aumkareshwar Thakur and Neeraj Bishnoi in early March 2021. Both accused have been charged with allegedly running the "S**li Deals and B**li Bai mobile apps to auction Muslim women in the virtual space."

Delhi Police had revealed that both Thakur and Bishnoi were members of TRADS. According to the police, Thakur had joined a TRAD group named Tradmahasabha using the @gangescion Twitter handle. He reportedly told the police that the idea to target and defame Muslim women came from discussions among members of this group. However, he appears to have deleted his online footprint.

Simply put, TRADs are Hate groups comprising people who identify as “Traditionalists” or “Trads”. Additionally, the name is also an acronym of sorts and stems from the fact that these groups are operating predominantly on Telegram, Reddit, 4chan and Discord (thus TR4D or TRAD). The Hate content created and shared on such apps is also shared widely using other social media platforms such as Twitter where these “trads” are often very active, busy trolling anyone who does not agree with their extreme right-wing supremacist views. Members of these hate groups claim to be preserving tradition by targeting those who speak up against it – people like outspoken Muslim women whose images, names and Twitter handles were used in both the auction apps.

 

Related:

Apps auctioning women fuelled by a TRADition of Hate

'S**li Deals' a form of Hate Speech: UN Special Rapporteur

Masterminds behind ‘S**li Deals’ and ‘B**li Bai’ apps granted bail

Muslim women’s auction app case: SC seeks response from states on key accused’s plea to club FIRs

Aumkareshwar Thakur faces FIRs in Delhi, UP and Maharashtra

Sulli deals

On Friday, the Supreme Court sought a response from the states of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra to a plea filed by Aumkareshwar Thakur, the key accused in the S**li Deals and B**li Bai app cases, to club multiple First Information Reports (FIRs) filed against him.  

Readers would recall that both the apps, S**lli Deals (July 2021) and B**li Bai (January 2022), were used to target independent thinking and vocal Muslim women by putting up their images as part of a virtual auction.

Aumkareshwar Thakur who had been arrested from Indore by the Delhi police in January, had moved SC demanding that all the FIRs against him be clubbed together. However, a bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh pondered over the possibility of doing so, given how different FIRs included different charges related to the creation of the two apps.

According to Bar and Bench, Justice Kaul remarked, “There are different offences. One is sulli deals and another is Bulli bai. Can different offences be clubbed? You have uploaded photos of various people and each is an aggrieved party.” Further noting that there were multiple uploads, he inquired, “You are saying in respect of each website there are different proceedings. Can you say whatever uploaded is confined to one place?”

On March 28, 2022, Dr. Pankaj Sharma, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) of Patiala House Court in Delhi granted bail to Aumkareshwar Thakur (26), the alleged creator of ‘S**li Deals’ app as well as Neeraj Bishnoi (21), alleged creator of ‘B**li Bai’ app. After bail had been first refused in January 2021, chargesheets had been filed against the ‘prime accused’ Aumkareshwar Thakur and Neeraj Bishnoi in early March 2021. Both accused have been charged with allegedly running the "S**li Deals and B**li Bai mobile apps to auction Muslim women in the virtual space."

Delhi Police had revealed that both Thakur and Bishnoi were members of TRADS. According to the police, Thakur had joined a TRAD group named Tradmahasabha using the @gangescion Twitter handle. He reportedly told the police that the idea to target and defame Muslim women came from discussions among members of this group. However, he appears to have deleted his online footprint.

Simply put, TRADs are Hate groups comprising people who identify as “Traditionalists” or “Trads”. Additionally, the name is also an acronym of sorts and stems from the fact that these groups are operating predominantly on Telegram, Reddit, 4chan and Discord (thus TR4D or TRAD). The Hate content created and shared on such apps is also shared widely using other social media platforms such as Twitter where these “trads” are often very active, busy trolling anyone who does not agree with their extreme right-wing supremacist views. Members of these hate groups claim to be preserving tradition by targeting those who speak up against it – people like outspoken Muslim women whose images, names and Twitter handles were used in both the auction apps.

 

Related:

Apps auctioning women fuelled by a TRADition of Hate

'S**li Deals' a form of Hate Speech: UN Special Rapporteur

Masterminds behind ‘S**li Deals’ and ‘B**li Bai’ apps granted bail

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Masterminds behind ‘S**li Deals’ and ‘B**li Bai’ apps granted bail

Delhi court cites humanitarian grounds such as first-time offence and young age

29 Mar 2022

Bail Granted

On March 28, 2022, Dr. Pankaj Sharma, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) of Patiala House Court in Delhi granted bail to Aumkareshwar Thakur (26), the alleged creator of ‘S**li Deals’ app as well as Neeraj Bishnoi (21), alleged creator of ‘B**li Bai’ app.After bail had been first refused in January 2021, chargesheets had been filed against the ‘prime accused’ Aumkareshwar Thakur and Neeraj Bishnoi inearly March 2021. Both accused have been charged with allegedly running the "S**li Deals and B**li Bai mobile apps to auction Muslim women in the virtual space."

As reported by Deccan Heraldon March 29, 2022, the Court noted that merely because replies from different intermediaries and Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) are awaited, it is not sufficient reason to deny bail to the accused as he is in not in a position to influence FSL result or replies.

In addition to that CMM Sharma reportedlyadded, “Accused is a first-time offender and a young person as such prolonged incarceration would be detrimental to his overall well-being. Accused has roots in the society community and he is not a flight risk. The trial would take considerable time to save as such no fruitful purpose would be served by keeping him detained any further.”

As reported by the Quint, the Court imposed conditions on the bail and ordered the accused:

  1. Not to contact or influence any witness in the case;
  2. Not to keep their mobile phones switched on at all times;
  3. Provide their current location if asked by the Investigation Officer (IO);
  4. Not allowed to leave the country;                    
  5. Appear before the court whenever ordered to do so

In July 2021, nearly 80 Muslim women were targeted and put up “for sale” on the S**li Deals app, and in January 2022, over 100 Muslim women were targeted using the B**li Bai app. Both B**li and S**li are sexually derogatory words used to target Muslim women. In both cases, there was no real sale of any kind - the purpose wass to degrade and humiliate Muslim women by sharing their personal images, and also to harass them by sharing their personal information.

While Delhi police arrested Neeraj Bishnoi from Jorhat, Assam on January 6, 2022, Aumkareshwar Thakurwas arrested from Indore, Madhya Pradesh on January 9, 2022. Arrests were also made by Mumbai Police around same time wherein Vishal Kumar aka Vishal Jha a 21-year-old from Bengaluru, Karnataka, 21-year-old Mayank Rawal and 18-year-old Shweta Singh, both from Uttarakhand. The FIR in the case was registered under sections 153A, 153 B, 295A, 354D, 509, 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) along with Section 67 Information Technology Act.

As reported by Sabrangindia, the UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, Dr Fernand de Varennes, has taken note of the vile anti Muslim 'S**li Deals' as hate speech. Varennes said such harassment of Muslim women in India must be condemned and the law should act against it “as soon as they occur”. He added that “all Human Rights of minorities need to be fully & equally protected.” 

What’s also important to note here is that in January 2022, an ecosystem of TRADs had come to light when the Delhi police revealed that both Aumkareshwar Thakur and Niraj Bishnoi were members of TRAD groups online. According to the police, Thakur had joined a TRAD group named Tradmahasabha using the @gangescion Twitter handle. He reportedly told the police that the idea to target and defame Muslim women came from discussions among members of this group. However, he had eventually deleted his online footprint.

TRADs are Hate groups of people identifying themselves as “Traditionalists” or “Trads”. The name stems from the fact that these groups are operating predominantly on Telegram, Reddit, 4chan and Discord (thus TR4D or TRAD). They run an elaborate social media campaign to popularise these apps, trolling anyone who does not agree with their extreme right-wing supremacist views. Moreover, they claim to be preserving “tradition” by targeting those who speak up against it and thereby targeting outspoken Muslim women whose images, names and Twitter handles were misused by the said auction apps.

In January 2022, fifty organisations including the Citizens for Justice and Peace (cjp.org.in) had written to the Commissioner of Police, Mumbai, urging him to ensure that the real masterminds behind both the Su**I Deals and Bu**I Bai Apps are investigated and prosecuted. Other organisations included: Forum Against Oppression of Women (FAOW), Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (Mumbai), Justice Coalition of Religious (West India), People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) – Maharashtra, Bebaak Collective, Haq Hai, Parcham Collective, and many others. The Mumbai police has since filed a chargesheet in the case.

Related:

Has inaction prompted another Muslim women’s auction on the internet?
'S**li Deals' a form of Hate Speech: UN Special Rapporteur
Apps auctioning women fuelled by a TRADition of Hate
Bulli Bai case: Are arrests enough to quell the storm?
Three arrested in Bulli Bai case
Being a Muslim woman in India: A story

Masterminds behind ‘S**li Deals’ and ‘B**li Bai’ apps granted bail

Delhi court cites humanitarian grounds such as first-time offence and young age

Bail Granted

On March 28, 2022, Dr. Pankaj Sharma, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) of Patiala House Court in Delhi granted bail to Aumkareshwar Thakur (26), the alleged creator of ‘S**li Deals’ app as well as Neeraj Bishnoi (21), alleged creator of ‘B**li Bai’ app.After bail had been first refused in January 2021, chargesheets had been filed against the ‘prime accused’ Aumkareshwar Thakur and Neeraj Bishnoi inearly March 2021. Both accused have been charged with allegedly running the "S**li Deals and B**li Bai mobile apps to auction Muslim women in the virtual space."

As reported by Deccan Heraldon March 29, 2022, the Court noted that merely because replies from different intermediaries and Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) are awaited, it is not sufficient reason to deny bail to the accused as he is in not in a position to influence FSL result or replies.

In addition to that CMM Sharma reportedlyadded, “Accused is a first-time offender and a young person as such prolonged incarceration would be detrimental to his overall well-being. Accused has roots in the society community and he is not a flight risk. The trial would take considerable time to save as such no fruitful purpose would be served by keeping him detained any further.”

As reported by the Quint, the Court imposed conditions on the bail and ordered the accused:

  1. Not to contact or influence any witness in the case;
  2. Not to keep their mobile phones switched on at all times;
  3. Provide their current location if asked by the Investigation Officer (IO);
  4. Not allowed to leave the country;                    
  5. Appear before the court whenever ordered to do so

In July 2021, nearly 80 Muslim women were targeted and put up “for sale” on the S**li Deals app, and in January 2022, over 100 Muslim women were targeted using the B**li Bai app. Both B**li and S**li are sexually derogatory words used to target Muslim women. In both cases, there was no real sale of any kind - the purpose wass to degrade and humiliate Muslim women by sharing their personal images, and also to harass them by sharing their personal information.

While Delhi police arrested Neeraj Bishnoi from Jorhat, Assam on January 6, 2022, Aumkareshwar Thakurwas arrested from Indore, Madhya Pradesh on January 9, 2022. Arrests were also made by Mumbai Police around same time wherein Vishal Kumar aka Vishal Jha a 21-year-old from Bengaluru, Karnataka, 21-year-old Mayank Rawal and 18-year-old Shweta Singh, both from Uttarakhand. The FIR in the case was registered under sections 153A, 153 B, 295A, 354D, 509, 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) along with Section 67 Information Technology Act.

As reported by Sabrangindia, the UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, Dr Fernand de Varennes, has taken note of the vile anti Muslim 'S**li Deals' as hate speech. Varennes said such harassment of Muslim women in India must be condemned and the law should act against it “as soon as they occur”. He added that “all Human Rights of minorities need to be fully & equally protected.” 

What’s also important to note here is that in January 2022, an ecosystem of TRADs had come to light when the Delhi police revealed that both Aumkareshwar Thakur and Niraj Bishnoi were members of TRAD groups online. According to the police, Thakur had joined a TRAD group named Tradmahasabha using the @gangescion Twitter handle. He reportedly told the police that the idea to target and defame Muslim women came from discussions among members of this group. However, he had eventually deleted his online footprint.

TRADs are Hate groups of people identifying themselves as “Traditionalists” or “Trads”. The name stems from the fact that these groups are operating predominantly on Telegram, Reddit, 4chan and Discord (thus TR4D or TRAD). They run an elaborate social media campaign to popularise these apps, trolling anyone who does not agree with their extreme right-wing supremacist views. Moreover, they claim to be preserving “tradition” by targeting those who speak up against it and thereby targeting outspoken Muslim women whose images, names and Twitter handles were misused by the said auction apps.

In January 2022, fifty organisations including the Citizens for Justice and Peace (cjp.org.in) had written to the Commissioner of Police, Mumbai, urging him to ensure that the real masterminds behind both the Su**I Deals and Bu**I Bai Apps are investigated and prosecuted. Other organisations included: Forum Against Oppression of Women (FAOW), Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (Mumbai), Justice Coalition of Religious (West India), People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) – Maharashtra, Bebaak Collective, Haq Hai, Parcham Collective, and many others. The Mumbai police has since filed a chargesheet in the case.

Related:

Has inaction prompted another Muslim women’s auction on the internet?
'S**li Deals' a form of Hate Speech: UN Special Rapporteur
Apps auctioning women fuelled by a TRADition of Hate
Bulli Bai case: Are arrests enough to quell the storm?
Three arrested in Bulli Bai case
Being a Muslim woman in India: A story

Related Articles


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'S**li Deals' a form of Hate Speech: UN Special Rapporteur

Dr Fernand de Varennes was responding to the issue making international headlines even though Indian ministers are yet to make a strong political statement against it

13 Jan 2022

Sulli dealsImage: The Quint

The UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues Dr Fernand de Varennes has taken note of the vile anti Muslim 'Sulli Deals' as hate speech. Varennes said such harassment of Muslim women in India must be condemned and the law should act against it “as soon as they occur”. He added that “all Human Rights of minorities need to be fully & equally protected.” 

 

 

Varennes was responding to the news making international headlines even though ministers in the government of India are yet to make a strong political statement against this.

The Union Cabinet Minister for Women & Child Development Smriti Irani, has remained focussed on questioning the Punjab’s Congress government for allegedly “failing to provide a safe passage to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cavalcade during his visit to the state on January 5.” Responding to a question on the targeting of Muslim women via apps, she all she told the Indian Express was that, “Women, irrespective of their religion, have been denied their dignity on social media platforms. I am grateful that the police are investigating this issue. I am absolutely confident that those who are guilty will be punished. My desire is also this… I had the privilege of engaging with the Supreme Court Justices… to ensure that we expedite cases. The law provides for an expeditious pronouncement. But there has been laxity given the burden on the courts of our country. But I am hopeful that between the police system and the judiciary, more and more cases where women receive justice are brought to light. I want to use this platform to say that this is an issue on which, irrespective of our politics, we need to come together.” Meanwhile, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the Union Cabinet Minister of Minority Affairs merely called the 'B**li Bai' app a “communal conspiracy against India's composite culture” adding that it “won't succeed.”

Last week  Delhi police arrested Aumkareshwar Thakur, 26, from Indore, Madhya Pradesh’s who they said was the creator of “ S**li Deals” app. While Mumbai Police had arrested three accused in the “B**li Bai case, Delhi Police arrested Neeraj Bishnoi, calling him the 'mastermind', he was arrested from Jorhat, Assam, and had allegedly created the app on the GitHub platform. According to Times Now’s anchor Rahul Shivashankar, the case “has no links to saffron groups”.

The three arrested  by the Mumbai Police were, Vishal Kumar aka Vishal Jha a 21-year-old from Bengaluru, Karnataka, 21-year-old Mayank Rawal and 18-year-old Shweta Singh, both from Uttarakhand. The FIR in the case was registered under sections 153A, 153 B, 295A, 354D, 509, 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) along with Section 67 Information Technology Act.

As reported previously by SabrangIndia, as revelations investigating the two apps that provided an online platform for “auction” of Muslim women, an ecosystem of TRADs has come to light. These TRADs are the ones running an elaborate social media campaign to popularise these apps. So, what are TRADs? The word first came to light when the Delhi police revealed that both Aumkareshwar Thakur (arrested from Indore in the S**li Deals case) and Niraj Bishnoi (arrested from Assam in the B**li Bai case) were members of TRAD groups online. According to the police, Thakur had joined a TRAD group named Tradmahasabha using the @gangescion Twitter handle. He reportedly told the police that the idea to target and defame Muslim women came from discussions among members of this group. However, he appears to have deleted his online footprint.

Simply put, TRADs are Hate groups comprising people who identify as “Traditionalists” or “Trads”. Additionally, the name is also an acronym of sorts and stems from the fact that these groups are operating predominantly on Telegram, Reddit, 4chan and Discord (thus TR4D or TRAD). The Hate content created and shared on such apps is also shared widely using other social media platforms such as Twitter where these “trads” are often very active, busy trolling anyone who does not agree with their extreme right-wing supremacist views. Members of these hate groups claim to be preserving tradition by targeting those who speak up against it – people like outspoken Muslim women whose images, names and Twitter handles were used in both the auction apps.

 

Related: 

Apps auctioning women fuelled by a TRADition of Hate

Four foot-soldiers arrested, but who is the real mastermind?

Bulli Bai case: Are arrests enough to quell the storm?

Citizens reclaim Varanasi ghats: VHP, Bajrang Dal’s communal posters fail

Hate Offender: Meet Kalicharan ‘Maharaj’

'S**li Deals' a form of Hate Speech: UN Special Rapporteur

Dr Fernand de Varennes was responding to the issue making international headlines even though Indian ministers are yet to make a strong political statement against it

Sulli dealsImage: The Quint

The UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues Dr Fernand de Varennes has taken note of the vile anti Muslim 'Sulli Deals' as hate speech. Varennes said such harassment of Muslim women in India must be condemned and the law should act against it “as soon as they occur”. He added that “all Human Rights of minorities need to be fully & equally protected.” 

 

 

Varennes was responding to the news making international headlines even though ministers in the government of India are yet to make a strong political statement against this.

The Union Cabinet Minister for Women & Child Development Smriti Irani, has remained focussed on questioning the Punjab’s Congress government for allegedly “failing to provide a safe passage to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cavalcade during his visit to the state on January 5.” Responding to a question on the targeting of Muslim women via apps, she all she told the Indian Express was that, “Women, irrespective of their religion, have been denied their dignity on social media platforms. I am grateful that the police are investigating this issue. I am absolutely confident that those who are guilty will be punished. My desire is also this… I had the privilege of engaging with the Supreme Court Justices… to ensure that we expedite cases. The law provides for an expeditious pronouncement. But there has been laxity given the burden on the courts of our country. But I am hopeful that between the police system and the judiciary, more and more cases where women receive justice are brought to light. I want to use this platform to say that this is an issue on which, irrespective of our politics, we need to come together.” Meanwhile, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the Union Cabinet Minister of Minority Affairs merely called the 'B**li Bai' app a “communal conspiracy against India's composite culture” adding that it “won't succeed.”

Last week  Delhi police arrested Aumkareshwar Thakur, 26, from Indore, Madhya Pradesh’s who they said was the creator of “ S**li Deals” app. While Mumbai Police had arrested three accused in the “B**li Bai case, Delhi Police arrested Neeraj Bishnoi, calling him the 'mastermind', he was arrested from Jorhat, Assam, and had allegedly created the app on the GitHub platform. According to Times Now’s anchor Rahul Shivashankar, the case “has no links to saffron groups”.

The three arrested  by the Mumbai Police were, Vishal Kumar aka Vishal Jha a 21-year-old from Bengaluru, Karnataka, 21-year-old Mayank Rawal and 18-year-old Shweta Singh, both from Uttarakhand. The FIR in the case was registered under sections 153A, 153 B, 295A, 354D, 509, 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) along with Section 67 Information Technology Act.

As reported previously by SabrangIndia, as revelations investigating the two apps that provided an online platform for “auction” of Muslim women, an ecosystem of TRADs has come to light. These TRADs are the ones running an elaborate social media campaign to popularise these apps. So, what are TRADs? The word first came to light when the Delhi police revealed that both Aumkareshwar Thakur (arrested from Indore in the S**li Deals case) and Niraj Bishnoi (arrested from Assam in the B**li Bai case) were members of TRAD groups online. According to the police, Thakur had joined a TRAD group named Tradmahasabha using the @gangescion Twitter handle. He reportedly told the police that the idea to target and defame Muslim women came from discussions among members of this group. However, he appears to have deleted his online footprint.

Simply put, TRADs are Hate groups comprising people who identify as “Traditionalists” or “Trads”. Additionally, the name is also an acronym of sorts and stems from the fact that these groups are operating predominantly on Telegram, Reddit, 4chan and Discord (thus TR4D or TRAD). The Hate content created and shared on such apps is also shared widely using other social media platforms such as Twitter where these “trads” are often very active, busy trolling anyone who does not agree with their extreme right-wing supremacist views. Members of these hate groups claim to be preserving tradition by targeting those who speak up against it – people like outspoken Muslim women whose images, names and Twitter handles were used in both the auction apps.

 

Related: 

Apps auctioning women fuelled by a TRADition of Hate

Four foot-soldiers arrested, but who is the real mastermind?

Bulli Bai case: Are arrests enough to quell the storm?

Citizens reclaim Varanasi ghats: VHP, Bajrang Dal’s communal posters fail

Hate Offender: Meet Kalicharan ‘Maharaj’

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Apps auctioning women fuelled by a TRADition of Hate

What or who are TRADS running an ecosystem of Hate so strong, it dehumanises women from minority communities and justifies their auction?

11 Jan 2022

online platform for “auction” of Muslim womenMumbai Chief of Police Hemant Nagrale speaks during a press conference following the arrests of several people for their alleged involvement in the Bulli Bai app | Image: https://www.dw.com/
 

In wake of two successive apps that provide an online platform for “auction” of Muslim women, an ecosystem of TRADs has come to light. These TRADs are the ones running an elaborate social media campaign to popularise these apps. So, what are TRADs?

The word first came to light when the Delhi police revealed that both Aumkareshwar Thakur (arrested from Indore in the S**li Deals case) and Niraj Bishnoi (arrested from Assam in the B**li Bai case) were members of TRAD groups online. According to the police, Thakur had joined a TRAD group named Tradmahasabha using the @gangescion Twitter handle. He reportedly told the police that the idea to target and defame Muslim women came from discussions among members of this group. However, he appears to have deleted his online footprint.

Simply put, TRADs are Hate groups comprising people who identify as “Traditionalists” or “Trads”. Additionally, the name is also an acronym of sorts and stems from the fact that these groups are operating predominantly on Telegram, Reddit, 4chan and Discord (thus TR4D or TRAD). The Hate content created and shared on such apps is also shared widely using other social media platforms such as Twitter where these “trads” are often very active, busy trolling anyone who does not agree with their extreme right-wing supremacist views. Members of these hate groups claim to be preserving tradition by targeting those who speak up against it – people like outspoken Muslim women whose images, names and Twitter handles were used in both the auction apps.

In an interview to The Quint, journalist Alishan Jafri says, “It's largely an organic movement through which thousands of young people make friends online because of their extremist far-right views and genocidal ‘humour’. It's a movement driven by only hate for Muslims, Dalits, Sikhs, and other minorities.”

After the arrest of Aumkareshwar Thakur, a senior police official told Indian Express, “These are some ‘traditional’ and conservative groups. I saw them… the members seem to have oppressive views — from the caste system to women empowerment. They condemn changes happening around us (in society) and often share texts from scriptures or offensive memes.” IE further reported that most platforms are “rife with casteist slurs, abuse aimed at Ambedkar, and talk of replacing the Constitution with the Manusmriti.” The content is also extremely Islamophobic.

However, some of them have views so extreme that they think the present Narendra Modi-led government isn’t doing enough to crack down on those who go against tradition. Journalist Alishan Jafri told The Quint, “Many of them believe that the Chaturvarna system should be strictly enforced and Manusmriti must replace the Constitution of India. They even dislike Prime Minister Modi and consider him to be unfit to be the PM. They mock his caste and his supposed inability to deal with the minorities with an iron hand, especially post-Bengal violence,” adding, “In the Trad world, glorification of anti-Dalit violence is quite rampant.”

Given factors such as easy access to the internet, hate for lower-castes, women and minorities, and frequent quoting of scripture, it can be surmised that membership predominantly comprises educated people hailing from so-called “upper” castes. All of this is deeply unsettling especially in wake of the rise in open calls to genocide of minorities, given not only during the Dharm Sansad, but also previously via slogans like “Desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maaro s***on ko,” (Translation: Shoot the traitors) that was originally directed at people protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that was openly discriminatory towards Muslim refugees. The slogan thus essentially labelled minorities as traitors.

But while it is easy to identify online trolls, it is difficult to keep a tab on “trads” given how they usually operate in their own groups. It is, therefore, harder to stem this online radicalisation of privileged youth, who it appears are not only harbouring extreme opinions, but are also comfortable with the idea of the Hate spilling offline and having consequences in the real world.

This is reminiscent of the Alt-Right movement in the United States, where Hate and supremacist ideas spread like wildfire online courtesy members of groups like Q Anon. The real-world impact was felt during the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol. One therefore wonders what these young minds, already full of festering Hate, are planning next.

Related:

Four foot-soldiers arrested, but who is the real mastermind?

Bulli Bai case: Are arrests enough to quell the storm?

Citizens reclaim Varanasi ghats: VHP, Bajrang Dal’s communal posters fail

Hate Offender: Meet Kalicharan ‘Maharaj’

Apps auctioning women fuelled by a TRADition of Hate

What or who are TRADS running an ecosystem of Hate so strong, it dehumanises women from minority communities and justifies their auction?

online platform for “auction” of Muslim womenMumbai Chief of Police Hemant Nagrale speaks during a press conference following the arrests of several people for their alleged involvement in the Bulli Bai app | Image: https://www.dw.com/
 

In wake of two successive apps that provide an online platform for “auction” of Muslim women, an ecosystem of TRADs has come to light. These TRADs are the ones running an elaborate social media campaign to popularise these apps. So, what are TRADs?

The word first came to light when the Delhi police revealed that both Aumkareshwar Thakur (arrested from Indore in the S**li Deals case) and Niraj Bishnoi (arrested from Assam in the B**li Bai case) were members of TRAD groups online. According to the police, Thakur had joined a TRAD group named Tradmahasabha using the @gangescion Twitter handle. He reportedly told the police that the idea to target and defame Muslim women came from discussions among members of this group. However, he appears to have deleted his online footprint.

Simply put, TRADs are Hate groups comprising people who identify as “Traditionalists” or “Trads”. Additionally, the name is also an acronym of sorts and stems from the fact that these groups are operating predominantly on Telegram, Reddit, 4chan and Discord (thus TR4D or TRAD). The Hate content created and shared on such apps is also shared widely using other social media platforms such as Twitter where these “trads” are often very active, busy trolling anyone who does not agree with their extreme right-wing supremacist views. Members of these hate groups claim to be preserving tradition by targeting those who speak up against it – people like outspoken Muslim women whose images, names and Twitter handles were used in both the auction apps.

In an interview to The Quint, journalist Alishan Jafri says, “It's largely an organic movement through which thousands of young people make friends online because of their extremist far-right views and genocidal ‘humour’. It's a movement driven by only hate for Muslims, Dalits, Sikhs, and other minorities.”

After the arrest of Aumkareshwar Thakur, a senior police official told Indian Express, “These are some ‘traditional’ and conservative groups. I saw them… the members seem to have oppressive views — from the caste system to women empowerment. They condemn changes happening around us (in society) and often share texts from scriptures or offensive memes.” IE further reported that most platforms are “rife with casteist slurs, abuse aimed at Ambedkar, and talk of replacing the Constitution with the Manusmriti.” The content is also extremely Islamophobic.

However, some of them have views so extreme that they think the present Narendra Modi-led government isn’t doing enough to crack down on those who go against tradition. Journalist Alishan Jafri told The Quint, “Many of them believe that the Chaturvarna system should be strictly enforced and Manusmriti must replace the Constitution of India. They even dislike Prime Minister Modi and consider him to be unfit to be the PM. They mock his caste and his supposed inability to deal with the minorities with an iron hand, especially post-Bengal violence,” adding, “In the Trad world, glorification of anti-Dalit violence is quite rampant.”

Given factors such as easy access to the internet, hate for lower-castes, women and minorities, and frequent quoting of scripture, it can be surmised that membership predominantly comprises educated people hailing from so-called “upper” castes. All of this is deeply unsettling especially in wake of the rise in open calls to genocide of minorities, given not only during the Dharm Sansad, but also previously via slogans like “Desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maaro s***on ko,” (Translation: Shoot the traitors) that was originally directed at people protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that was openly discriminatory towards Muslim refugees. The slogan thus essentially labelled minorities as traitors.

But while it is easy to identify online trolls, it is difficult to keep a tab on “trads” given how they usually operate in their own groups. It is, therefore, harder to stem this online radicalisation of privileged youth, who it appears are not only harbouring extreme opinions, but are also comfortable with the idea of the Hate spilling offline and having consequences in the real world.

This is reminiscent of the Alt-Right movement in the United States, where Hate and supremacist ideas spread like wildfire online courtesy members of groups like Q Anon. The real-world impact was felt during the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol. One therefore wonders what these young minds, already full of festering Hate, are planning next.

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Three arrested in Bulli Bai case

Mumbai police arrested Mayank Rawal, and Shweta Singh from Uttarakhand and Vishal Jha from Bengaluru

05 Jan 2022

social media appImage Courtesy:republicworld.com

In fresh developments in the large-scale attempt to defame and harass women from the minority community by way of an online auction, three people have been arrested in what is being called the Bulli Bai case. What is more shocking is how right wing affiliated handles tried to pin the blame on Muslims, and later Sikhs, and shared claims that the vile social media app #SulliDeal was developed by someone named Javed Alam. Thereby suggesting that even 'bulli bai’, may have a similar ‘ownership’.

“It’s never too late, share this info everywhere. Don’t let I$lamists make Hindus feel ashamed for their own deeds” was one such bizarre claim. This is one of those handles with a high followership that has been constantly trying to work that narrative on social media

However, all those attempts fell flat when Mumbai Police arrested three people - Vishal Kumar aka Vishal Jha from Bengaluru, Mayank Rawal and Shweta Singh from Uttarakhand. Vishal, a 21-year-old engineering student was detained on Monday from Bengaluru, and arrested by the Mumbai cyber police on Tuesday in connection with its probe into the two apps that “auctioned” Muslim women. According to news reports, Vishal was running one of the Twitter handles used to upload the content from the app, joint commissioner of police Milind Bharambe (crime) told the media that “several facts were verified and after his role was found involved in the crime, he was arrested. The accused was taken to the Bandra court around 4pm for his custody remand for further investigation.” Vishal was remanded in police custody till January 10.

The Mumbai police arrested 18-year-old Shweta Singh, on Tuesday, reportedly as being the prime suspect in the Bulli Bai case investigation. The Mumbai cyber police started a fresh probe into the offensive apps after registering a first information report (FIR) under sections 153A, 153 B, 295A, 354D, 509, 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) along with Section 67 Information Technology Act against unknown persons on Sunday. Her name was “revealed by Vishal Kumar” who was arrested earlier in Bengaluru. He reportedly said that he was in touch with the woman and claimed that she was in touch with the people who were working on the posts and activities on the Bulli Bai app.

According to reports now emerging after Shweta’s arrest, many including India Today, and many-right wing handles have amplified how she “lost her father to Covid-19 last year and lost her mother to cancer before this. She has an elder sister who is a commerce graduate, while her younger sister and brother are school students. She was preparing for engineering entrance examinations.”

Amar Ujala also reported that the investigations have revealed that Shweta was “in contact with a Nepalese youth” and “only after that did she change the name of her Twitter handle (account).” This in effect puts the spotlight on this “Nepali man” who reportedly told Shweta to use a fake Twitter handle named JattKhalsa07. From her earlierTwitter handle named Infinity07. According to Amar Ujala the Nepali man ran a Twitter handle named Giyou, from Nepal. Mumbai Police is reportedly looking for him too.

A third arrest has been made in the case from Uttarakhand, the accused has been identified as a 21-year-old student, Mayank Rawal, and was arrested by the Mumbai cyber police from Uttarakhand. Police have sought information from GitHub, the platform used to make the app and Twitter, where links to the app were reportedly posted by several accounts.

In July 2021, nearly 80 Muslim women were targeted and put up “for sale” on “Sulli Deals”, and this time it is over 100 Muslim women who have been targeted on “Bulli Bai”. The app’s interface used Punjabi language or the Gurmukhi writing script in the app. Both Bulli and Sulli are derogatory words used for Muslim women. In both cases, there was no real sale of any kind - the purpose is to degrade and humiliate Muslim women by sharing their personal images.

The RSS mouthpiece Organiser, in August 2021, had published a “massive revelation about the mobile app ‘Sulli Deals’” claiming that a private conversation suggests the app was developed by one Javed Alam of Uttar Pradesh. An expose account @sullidealsXpose, it reported, “put out a private conversation between Alam and a Muslim woman in which Alam claims to have developed the app.” According to the Organiser’s report, on the “leaked conversation”, Alam, 23, reportedly “created the app and doesn’t regret it. He further claims that it will teach a nice lesson to those Muslim women who post their pictures on social media platforms. The RSS mouthpiece claims that according to the media the “Sulli Deals'' was “handiwork of some Hindu elements''. 

However, it was a ‘editor’ of Opinida who had tweeted an endorsement of the Sulli deals. 

Support pours in, but ministers are silent

Statements of demanding investigation and punishment for the criminals behind this targetting of Muslim women, including journalists, have poured in since the news broke on January 1. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called on the Indian authorities to intervene to put a stop to this form of harassment, which is both revolting and potentially dangerous for its targets, and noted how ““Bulli Bai” is now an insult for Muslim women throughout the country, one widely used by online trolls who support the Hindu nationalist right.”

Microsoft, GitHub’s owner, has taken the app down and India’s Electronics & Information Technology minister, Ashwini Vaishnaw, said on January 2 that the police were looking into it. The police in Mumbai announced this morning that an initial arrest had been made.

Priyanka Chaturvedi, a Rajya Sabha MP from the Shiv Sena was one of the first political leaders to respond, and has followed up on the issue.

However, there is deafening silence on the issue from Union Cabinet Minister for Women & Child Development and MP from Amethi, Smriti Z Irani, who has been busy sharing posts on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s many visits. Also too busy to comment on this issue is Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Union Cabinet Minister of Minority Affairs.  

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/y5AcpO6Ak9-W-S0JnxxhLtGAwBU0jKuAEbWhQ0SLNkaCMO_TmeG44lHEIBnPYmiw-MBgWBtH2ChhsyWQTmL1wpTujgwXoQUh3UTQaKVmyjr5FnbCjHrM-A8R8Lu-CaFKIxSOZoDg


https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/5jZq6sPpSAaKiLvWtH0AN-bgO2A8CBYgeuC-eccBCKzMVPL1sP-1IRIffJen-1hrEThy-T7D79d5Mjk7NDLjTjh3ENMaR8NMQSIwsp97JU01f-zEDuP8dF9mqprhnjZ-UUdqrGDj

The onus has been on journalists, citizens' rights groups, human rights defenders, and the victims themselves to continue making sure that justice is served in the case.

Must Watch:

I’m a vocal Indian Muslim woman, not an object to be auctioned”, CJP Secretary Teesta Setalvad’s exclusive conversation with Noor Mahvish, the young law student who bravely spoke out after she was “listed for auction” in Sulli Deals.

Related

Has inaction prompted another Muslim women’s auction on the internet?
Being a Muslim woman in India: A story
I’m a vocal Indian Muslim woman, not an object to be auctioned
CJP approaches Twitter over sexually violent content against Muslim wom

Three arrested in Bulli Bai case

Mumbai police arrested Mayank Rawal, and Shweta Singh from Uttarakhand and Vishal Jha from Bengaluru

social media appImage Courtesy:republicworld.com

In fresh developments in the large-scale attempt to defame and harass women from the minority community by way of an online auction, three people have been arrested in what is being called the Bulli Bai case. What is more shocking is how right wing affiliated handles tried to pin the blame on Muslims, and later Sikhs, and shared claims that the vile social media app #SulliDeal was developed by someone named Javed Alam. Thereby suggesting that even 'bulli bai’, may have a similar ‘ownership’.

“It’s never too late, share this info everywhere. Don’t let I$lamists make Hindus feel ashamed for their own deeds” was one such bizarre claim. This is one of those handles with a high followership that has been constantly trying to work that narrative on social media

However, all those attempts fell flat when Mumbai Police arrested three people - Vishal Kumar aka Vishal Jha from Bengaluru, Mayank Rawal and Shweta Singh from Uttarakhand. Vishal, a 21-year-old engineering student was detained on Monday from Bengaluru, and arrested by the Mumbai cyber police on Tuesday in connection with its probe into the two apps that “auctioned” Muslim women. According to news reports, Vishal was running one of the Twitter handles used to upload the content from the app, joint commissioner of police Milind Bharambe (crime) told the media that “several facts were verified and after his role was found involved in the crime, he was arrested. The accused was taken to the Bandra court around 4pm for his custody remand for further investigation.” Vishal was remanded in police custody till January 10.

The Mumbai police arrested 18-year-old Shweta Singh, on Tuesday, reportedly as being the prime suspect in the Bulli Bai case investigation. The Mumbai cyber police started a fresh probe into the offensive apps after registering a first information report (FIR) under sections 153A, 153 B, 295A, 354D, 509, 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) along with Section 67 Information Technology Act against unknown persons on Sunday. Her name was “revealed by Vishal Kumar” who was arrested earlier in Bengaluru. He reportedly said that he was in touch with the woman and claimed that she was in touch with the people who were working on the posts and activities on the Bulli Bai app.

According to reports now emerging after Shweta’s arrest, many including India Today, and many-right wing handles have amplified how she “lost her father to Covid-19 last year and lost her mother to cancer before this. She has an elder sister who is a commerce graduate, while her younger sister and brother are school students. She was preparing for engineering entrance examinations.”

Amar Ujala also reported that the investigations have revealed that Shweta was “in contact with a Nepalese youth” and “only after that did she change the name of her Twitter handle (account).” This in effect puts the spotlight on this “Nepali man” who reportedly told Shweta to use a fake Twitter handle named JattKhalsa07. From her earlierTwitter handle named Infinity07. According to Amar Ujala the Nepali man ran a Twitter handle named Giyou, from Nepal. Mumbai Police is reportedly looking for him too.

A third arrest has been made in the case from Uttarakhand, the accused has been identified as a 21-year-old student, Mayank Rawal, and was arrested by the Mumbai cyber police from Uttarakhand. Police have sought information from GitHub, the platform used to make the app and Twitter, where links to the app were reportedly posted by several accounts.

In July 2021, nearly 80 Muslim women were targeted and put up “for sale” on “Sulli Deals”, and this time it is over 100 Muslim women who have been targeted on “Bulli Bai”. The app’s interface used Punjabi language or the Gurmukhi writing script in the app. Both Bulli and Sulli are derogatory words used for Muslim women. In both cases, there was no real sale of any kind - the purpose is to degrade and humiliate Muslim women by sharing their personal images.

The RSS mouthpiece Organiser, in August 2021, had published a “massive revelation about the mobile app ‘Sulli Deals’” claiming that a private conversation suggests the app was developed by one Javed Alam of Uttar Pradesh. An expose account @sullidealsXpose, it reported, “put out a private conversation between Alam and a Muslim woman in which Alam claims to have developed the app.” According to the Organiser’s report, on the “leaked conversation”, Alam, 23, reportedly “created the app and doesn’t regret it. He further claims that it will teach a nice lesson to those Muslim women who post their pictures on social media platforms. The RSS mouthpiece claims that according to the media the “Sulli Deals'' was “handiwork of some Hindu elements''. 

However, it was a ‘editor’ of Opinida who had tweeted an endorsement of the Sulli deals. 

Support pours in, but ministers are silent

Statements of demanding investigation and punishment for the criminals behind this targetting of Muslim women, including journalists, have poured in since the news broke on January 1. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called on the Indian authorities to intervene to put a stop to this form of harassment, which is both revolting and potentially dangerous for its targets, and noted how ““Bulli Bai” is now an insult for Muslim women throughout the country, one widely used by online trolls who support the Hindu nationalist right.”

Microsoft, GitHub’s owner, has taken the app down and India’s Electronics & Information Technology minister, Ashwini Vaishnaw, said on January 2 that the police were looking into it. The police in Mumbai announced this morning that an initial arrest had been made.

Priyanka Chaturvedi, a Rajya Sabha MP from the Shiv Sena was one of the first political leaders to respond, and has followed up on the issue.

However, there is deafening silence on the issue from Union Cabinet Minister for Women & Child Development and MP from Amethi, Smriti Z Irani, who has been busy sharing posts on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s many visits. Also too busy to comment on this issue is Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Union Cabinet Minister of Minority Affairs.  

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/y5AcpO6Ak9-W-S0JnxxhLtGAwBU0jKuAEbWhQ0SLNkaCMO_TmeG44lHEIBnPYmiw-MBgWBtH2ChhsyWQTmL1wpTujgwXoQUh3UTQaKVmyjr5FnbCjHrM-A8R8Lu-CaFKIxSOZoDg


https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/5jZq6sPpSAaKiLvWtH0AN-bgO2A8CBYgeuC-eccBCKzMVPL1sP-1IRIffJen-1hrEThy-T7D79d5Mjk7NDLjTjh3ENMaR8NMQSIwsp97JU01f-zEDuP8dF9mqprhnjZ-UUdqrGDj

The onus has been on journalists, citizens' rights groups, human rights defenders, and the victims themselves to continue making sure that justice is served in the case.

Must Watch:

I’m a vocal Indian Muslim woman, not an object to be auctioned”, CJP Secretary Teesta Setalvad’s exclusive conversation with Noor Mahvish, the young law student who bravely spoke out after she was “listed for auction” in Sulli Deals.

Related

Has inaction prompted another Muslim women’s auction on the internet?
Being a Muslim woman in India: A story
I’m a vocal Indian Muslim woman, not an object to be auctioned
CJP approaches Twitter over sexually violent content against Muslim wom

Related Articles


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Videos

Archives

IN FACT

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Sabrang

Has inaction prompted another Muslim women’s auction on the internet?

The shameful act of auctioning women continues, as no strict action has been taken since the last “auction”

03 Jan 2022

bully bai

Another sickening incident has had its genesis on social media after the last instance where Muslim women were brazenly “auctioned” by using profile pictures from social media accounts, this time as well a website hosted doctored, “lewd” pictures and objectionable comments “aimed at insulting Muslim women”.

Doctored photos of at least 100 Muslim women, along with lewd remarks and comments, were posted online this week. GitHub, a Microsoft-owned open software development site, subsequently removed the content, but many Twitter users tagged the women and posted screenshots of the webpage, reported IE. These women include prominent actress Shabana Azmi, wife of a sitting judge of Delhi High Court, Fatima Nafees, 65-year-old mother of disappeared student Najeeb Ahmed, multiple journalists including Ismat Ara of The Wire, activists and politicians.

In July 2021, nearly 80 Muslim women were targeted and put up “for sale” on “Sulli Deals” and this time it is over 100 Muslim women who have been targeted on “Bulli Bai”. The app’s interface used Punjabi language or the Gurmukhi writing script in the app. Both Bulli and Sulli are derogatory words used for Muslim women. In both cases, there was no real sale of any kind - the purpose is to degrade and humiliate Muslim women by sharing their personal images.

One Twitter User, Nabiya Khan, who was targeted the last time in the Sulli Deals incident responded to Delhi Police that they are taking action, that she was not even provided a copy of the FIR she had lodged on July 12

“All lies @Delhi Police! You have never provided me a copy of (the)FIR registered on my complaint dt 12/07/21 against the violation of my dignity and crimes committed against me re. Sulli Deals (sic). I am still waiting for it. It’s been 5 months already. What action will you take this time?,” she tweeted.

 

 

Cognizance

The Minister for Electronics and Information Technology, Ashwini Vaishnaw, quick to take action I this regard, had tweeted on Sunday that GitHub, the coding platform on which the said app was hosted, had blocked the user, and Cert-In and police were “co-coordinating further action”.

 

 

There are also separate FIRs that have been registered in Delhi as well as Mumbai and the  latter has already booked certain Twitter handles that disseminated the content on charges of stalking, defamation, promoting enmity, and posting lewd comments, reported Indian Express.

Even the National Commission for Women  (NCW) has written to Delhi Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana seeking expeditious investigation and action int his matter.

 

 

“The action taken in both the cases must be apprised to the Commission at the earliest. A copy of the letter has also been sent to Dy Commissioner of Police CyPAD, Delhi,” NCW has said on Twitter.

So far Twitter has suspended only one account that had been sharing links to the app hosted on GitHub, as per IE.

Even the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) wrote to Delhi Police seeking details of the accused in this case and the progress of the investigation in the July incident of ‘Sulli Deals’

 

 

Maharashtra Minister of State for Home (Urban) Satej Patil wrote on Twitter, “Digital platforms like these are rife with misogyny and communal hatred aimed at women. This is very disturbing and shameful. Maharashtra Govt. is taking strong actions against such platforms. I have instructed @MahaCyber1 for the same & they are on it.”

The targets

An FIR has also been lodged by activist Khalida Parveen in Hyderabad as she was also targeted on the said website hosted on gitHub

 

 

Parveen insisted that Bulli Bai targeted women who have vociferously criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre. Among those targeted are women who have criticised the Haridwar conclave where Hindu 'godmen' reportedly called for violence against Muslims in the country, she told The Quint. "Bulli Bai appeared soon after several Muslim women, men and other activists spearheaded an online campaign against Narsinghanand. The app was meant to divert attention from this campaign,” she added.

A student of Jamia Milia Islamia has also been targeted, as she posted a screenshot of the same on Twitter

 

 

On January 1, Quratulain Rehbar, a journalist from the Kashmir Valley, woke up to see herself listed for an “online auction”. Her photograph was sourced without her permission and uploaded on an app for “sale”, reported Al Jazeera.

Ismat Ara also lodged an FIR in Delhi

 

 

Another Twitter user, Sidrah filed an FIR in Mumbai

 

 

Fatima Zohra Khan, a lawyer based in Mumbai whose name figured in both the apps had also filed a ocmpaint with Mumbai Police in July 2021. “We got no response from Twitter, GitHub and Go-Daddy [web hosting company] despite Mumbai Police themselves requesting them to reveal data. These websites refuse to share information unless a court warrant is produced,” she told Al Jazeera.

“Bulli Bai takes hate crimes in India to another dangerous level where Muslim women are being virtually violated and made a free-for-all for a bigoted mob,” renowned journalist, Rana Ayyub, told Al Jazeera.

2018 Amnesty International report on online harassment in India showed that the more vocal a woman was, the more likely she was to be targeted - the scale of this increased for women from religious minorities and disadvantaged castes.

Online violence against women is essentially an extension of the offline violence directed at women owing to their gender – it targets their sexuality, reduces them to sexual objects and reinforces gender stereotypes. Online violence often leads to women being silenced or self-censoring of their opinions because of fear of backlash. Therefore, such violence and abuse act as barriers to women being able to exercise their rights to equality and freedom of expression,” wrote Mariya Salim, a women’s rights activist for The Wire.

Sulli Deals

When this kind of loathsome auction had taken place in July 2021, a similar outrage had emerged, however, this time the cognizance taken by authorities including the Union Ministry is to be taken note of. Cognizance is only the first step and unless the culprits are brought to book, such incidents will continue to occur.

Back then an anonymous Twitter handle that went by DesiSulliDeals was putting up picture(s) for auction. Another account by the name of Sullideals101 was also indulging in similar targeting. “These people are placing bids to own me and this handle claims that I have been sold to someone. He says ‘enjoy brother’,” Hasiba Amin a national coordinator for the Congress party, had told Article14 in July last year.

At that time, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) had complained to Twitter against user accounts that promotes material that was not only pornographic but also glorified sexual violence against Muslim women. The accounts in question shared hundreds of pornographic videos of women in hijab every day, with inflammatory captions presenting Muslim women as objects, meant to be sexually exploited. Photoshopped pictures of Hindu men and pregnant women in saffron hijab were also widely shared by these accounts. In response, Twitter had suspended 21 such accounts

Noor Mahvish gets vocal

A law student, Mahvish, was targeted in the Sulli Deals  incident and she had given a first person account to CJP on “Being a Muslim woman in India: A story” whereby she narrated, “When I first saw my picture on Sulli deals, I was completely at a loss for words. It took me three days to come forward and even file a complaint at the police station because my hopes (for justice) were too low. Not a single main-stream media outlet is ready to highlight the issue about this auction of Muslim women consistently because it is not a matter of wider concern.”

“Shocked to see that Muslim women are being “auctioned” by this Sulli Deal App, I checked out the app myself and was shocked to find a few of my social media friends also derogatorily portrayed there. It was on July 5, 2021, a day later, that I got to know that I, too, am listed in the app as a “Sulli Deal”. Sulli is a derogatory term which is used against women and on Sulli Deal, Muslim women were portrayed as “loose” and “available” women, much like a piece of chocolate or a material object which is being auctioned by the host. Clearly, people were actually enjoying this,” she said.

“I was completely shocked to find myself on the list. I have faced Islamophobia in my school days. I was a hijabia (woman wearing the hijab) from a very early age because I love wearing it. I come from a town near Allahabad city and have experienced targeted humiliation: a few bikers coming by shouting slogans like “Pakistan bhej denge” (will send you to Pakistan). I actually wanted to become a doctor, but this incident impacted my life so deeply that I changed direction completely and took up the challenge to uplift and fight for community rights, and equality, and non-discrimination, against the fascist regime.,” she added.

Internet: Not a safe place for Muslim women

On May 13, 2021 a livestream began on a YouTube channel called “Liberal Doge”, which has 87,000 subscribers. The owner of the channel posted photographs of Pakistani women, saved without permission from their social media accounts. The channel’s audience then “rated” the women, “auctioned” them off to each other, and posted sexually charged comments on their looks and clothes, reported News Laundry. Reportedly, the man behind the livestream was Ritesh Jha, a 23-year-old resident of DLF Phase 2 in Gurugram who is originally from Bihar who runs several social media accounts under the names “Liberal Doge” as well as “Secular Doge”.

However, no action was taken against Jha and few days after his horrendous act on Youtube, the Sulli Deals was gradually uncovered. Given that this was on similar lines to what Jha was doling to Pakistani women, he should have been acted against to possibly draw a link, however no such action was taken.

Nabiya Khan tweeted about her ordeal after having been targeted the second time in such an act, “I have been trying to gather some strength to write something about #BulliDeals. Just when I thought I had left the trauma of #SulliDeals behind me, it came to haunt us(me along with more than 112 Muslims Women) again with an updated version, as a new year present. This is how we are greeted and treated in India on the first day of the new year, while other people in my country have fun, joke and party. Yes everyone's got the right to have fun and party, but nobody deserves to be attacked, humiliated, bought and sold.”

“We will take the fight to its end even if it takes generations. Not fighting is not an option we have. To all my fellow muslim women whose name is on the list, it's okay to feel vulnerable and weak,” she added.

It remains to be seen how seriously will this brazen incident be taken by the police authorities and the political class alike, to bring the perpetrators to book and bring justice to the Muslim owmen who have been repeatedly targeted and humiliated by such heinous acts.

Related:

Being a Muslim woman in India: A story

I’m a vocal Indian Muslim woman, not an object to be auctioned

CJP approaches Twitter over sexually violent content against Muslim women

Has inaction prompted another Muslim women’s auction on the internet?

The shameful act of auctioning women continues, as no strict action has been taken since the last “auction”

bully bai

Another sickening incident has had its genesis on social media after the last instance where Muslim women were brazenly “auctioned” by using profile pictures from social media accounts, this time as well a website hosted doctored, “lewd” pictures and objectionable comments “aimed at insulting Muslim women”.

Doctored photos of at least 100 Muslim women, along with lewd remarks and comments, were posted online this week. GitHub, a Microsoft-owned open software development site, subsequently removed the content, but many Twitter users tagged the women and posted screenshots of the webpage, reported IE. These women include prominent actress Shabana Azmi, wife of a sitting judge of Delhi High Court, Fatima Nafees, 65-year-old mother of disappeared student Najeeb Ahmed, multiple journalists including Ismat Ara of The Wire, activists and politicians.

In July 2021, nearly 80 Muslim women were targeted and put up “for sale” on “Sulli Deals” and this time it is over 100 Muslim women who have been targeted on “Bulli Bai”. The app’s interface used Punjabi language or the Gurmukhi writing script in the app. Both Bulli and Sulli are derogatory words used for Muslim women. In both cases, there was no real sale of any kind - the purpose is to degrade and humiliate Muslim women by sharing their personal images.

One Twitter User, Nabiya Khan, who was targeted the last time in the Sulli Deals incident responded to Delhi Police that they are taking action, that she was not even provided a copy of the FIR she had lodged on July 12

“All lies @Delhi Police! You have never provided me a copy of (the)FIR registered on my complaint dt 12/07/21 against the violation of my dignity and crimes committed against me re. Sulli Deals (sic). I am still waiting for it. It’s been 5 months already. What action will you take this time?,” she tweeted.

 

 

Cognizance

The Minister for Electronics and Information Technology, Ashwini Vaishnaw, quick to take action I this regard, had tweeted on Sunday that GitHub, the coding platform on which the said app was hosted, had blocked the user, and Cert-In and police were “co-coordinating further action”.

 

 

There are also separate FIRs that have been registered in Delhi as well as Mumbai and the  latter has already booked certain Twitter handles that disseminated the content on charges of stalking, defamation, promoting enmity, and posting lewd comments, reported Indian Express.

Even the National Commission for Women  (NCW) has written to Delhi Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana seeking expeditious investigation and action int his matter.

 

 

“The action taken in both the cases must be apprised to the Commission at the earliest. A copy of the letter has also been sent to Dy Commissioner of Police CyPAD, Delhi,” NCW has said on Twitter.

So far Twitter has suspended only one account that had been sharing links to the app hosted on GitHub, as per IE.

Even the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) wrote to Delhi Police seeking details of the accused in this case and the progress of the investigation in the July incident of ‘Sulli Deals’

 

 

Maharashtra Minister of State for Home (Urban) Satej Patil wrote on Twitter, “Digital platforms like these are rife with misogyny and communal hatred aimed at women. This is very disturbing and shameful. Maharashtra Govt. is taking strong actions against such platforms. I have instructed @MahaCyber1 for the same & they are on it.”

The targets

An FIR has also been lodged by activist Khalida Parveen in Hyderabad as she was also targeted on the said website hosted on gitHub

 

 

Parveen insisted that Bulli Bai targeted women who have vociferously criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre. Among those targeted are women who have criticised the Haridwar conclave where Hindu 'godmen' reportedly called for violence against Muslims in the country, she told The Quint. "Bulli Bai appeared soon after several Muslim women, men and other activists spearheaded an online campaign against Narsinghanand. The app was meant to divert attention from this campaign,” she added.

A student of Jamia Milia Islamia has also been targeted, as she posted a screenshot of the same on Twitter

 

 

On January 1, Quratulain Rehbar, a journalist from the Kashmir Valley, woke up to see herself listed for an “online auction”. Her photograph was sourced without her permission and uploaded on an app for “sale”, reported Al Jazeera.

Ismat Ara also lodged an FIR in Delhi

 

 

Another Twitter user, Sidrah filed an FIR in Mumbai

 

 

Fatima Zohra Khan, a lawyer based in Mumbai whose name figured in both the apps had also filed a ocmpaint with Mumbai Police in July 2021. “We got no response from Twitter, GitHub and Go-Daddy [web hosting company] despite Mumbai Police themselves requesting them to reveal data. These websites refuse to share information unless a court warrant is produced,” she told Al Jazeera.

“Bulli Bai takes hate crimes in India to another dangerous level where Muslim women are being virtually violated and made a free-for-all for a bigoted mob,” renowned journalist, Rana Ayyub, told Al Jazeera.

2018 Amnesty International report on online harassment in India showed that the more vocal a woman was, the more likely she was to be targeted - the scale of this increased for women from religious minorities and disadvantaged castes.

Online violence against women is essentially an extension of the offline violence directed at women owing to their gender – it targets their sexuality, reduces them to sexual objects and reinforces gender stereotypes. Online violence often leads to women being silenced or self-censoring of their opinions because of fear of backlash. Therefore, such violence and abuse act as barriers to women being able to exercise their rights to equality and freedom of expression,” wrote Mariya Salim, a women’s rights activist for The Wire.

Sulli Deals

When this kind of loathsome auction had taken place in July 2021, a similar outrage had emerged, however, this time the cognizance taken by authorities including the Union Ministry is to be taken note of. Cognizance is only the first step and unless the culprits are brought to book, such incidents will continue to occur.

Back then an anonymous Twitter handle that went by DesiSulliDeals was putting up picture(s) for auction. Another account by the name of Sullideals101 was also indulging in similar targeting. “These people are placing bids to own me and this handle claims that I have been sold to someone. He says ‘enjoy brother’,” Hasiba Amin a national coordinator for the Congress party, had told Article14 in July last year.

At that time, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) had complained to Twitter against user accounts that promotes material that was not only pornographic but also glorified sexual violence against Muslim women. The accounts in question shared hundreds of pornographic videos of women in hijab every day, with inflammatory captions presenting Muslim women as objects, meant to be sexually exploited. Photoshopped pictures of Hindu men and pregnant women in saffron hijab were also widely shared by these accounts. In response, Twitter had suspended 21 such accounts

Noor Mahvish gets vocal

A law student, Mahvish, was targeted in the Sulli Deals  incident and she had given a first person account to CJP on “Being a Muslim woman in India: A story” whereby she narrated, “When I first saw my picture on Sulli deals, I was completely at a loss for words. It took me three days to come forward and even file a complaint at the police station because my hopes (for justice) were too low. Not a single main-stream media outlet is ready to highlight the issue about this auction of Muslim women consistently because it is not a matter of wider concern.”

“Shocked to see that Muslim women are being “auctioned” by this Sulli Deal App, I checked out the app myself and was shocked to find a few of my social media friends also derogatorily portrayed there. It was on July 5, 2021, a day later, that I got to know that I, too, am listed in the app as a “Sulli Deal”. Sulli is a derogatory term which is used against women and on Sulli Deal, Muslim women were portrayed as “loose” and “available” women, much like a piece of chocolate or a material object which is being auctioned by the host. Clearly, people were actually enjoying this,” she said.

“I was completely shocked to find myself on the list. I have faced Islamophobia in my school days. I was a hijabia (woman wearing the hijab) from a very early age because I love wearing it. I come from a town near Allahabad city and have experienced targeted humiliation: a few bikers coming by shouting slogans like “Pakistan bhej denge” (will send you to Pakistan). I actually wanted to become a doctor, but this incident impacted my life so deeply that I changed direction completely and took up the challenge to uplift and fight for community rights, and equality, and non-discrimination, against the fascist regime.,” she added.

Internet: Not a safe place for Muslim women

On May 13, 2021 a livestream began on a YouTube channel called “Liberal Doge”, which has 87,000 subscribers. The owner of the channel posted photographs of Pakistani women, saved without permission from their social media accounts. The channel’s audience then “rated” the women, “auctioned” them off to each other, and posted sexually charged comments on their looks and clothes, reported News Laundry. Reportedly, the man behind the livestream was Ritesh Jha, a 23-year-old resident of DLF Phase 2 in Gurugram who is originally from Bihar who runs several social media accounts under the names “Liberal Doge” as well as “Secular Doge”.

However, no action was taken against Jha and few days after his horrendous act on Youtube, the Sulli Deals was gradually uncovered. Given that this was on similar lines to what Jha was doling to Pakistani women, he should have been acted against to possibly draw a link, however no such action was taken.

Nabiya Khan tweeted about her ordeal after having been targeted the second time in such an act, “I have been trying to gather some strength to write something about #BulliDeals. Just when I thought I had left the trauma of #SulliDeals behind me, it came to haunt us(me along with more than 112 Muslims Women) again with an updated version, as a new year present. This is how we are greeted and treated in India on the first day of the new year, while other people in my country have fun, joke and party. Yes everyone's got the right to have fun and party, but nobody deserves to be attacked, humiliated, bought and sold.”

“We will take the fight to its end even if it takes generations. Not fighting is not an option we have. To all my fellow muslim women whose name is on the list, it's okay to feel vulnerable and weak,” she added.

It remains to be seen how seriously will this brazen incident be taken by the police authorities and the political class alike, to bring the perpetrators to book and bring justice to the Muslim owmen who have been repeatedly targeted and humiliated by such heinous acts.

Related:

Being a Muslim woman in India: A story

I’m a vocal Indian Muslim woman, not an object to be auctioned

CJP approaches Twitter over sexually violent content against Muslim women

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Sulli Deals case: IBHAS to investigate accused Kunal Sharma's claims of mental illness

DCW says that the accused’s mother claimed before court that he suffered from mental problems, therefore it was important to verify the claim

18 Aug 2021

Silli DealImage Courtesy:siasat.com

The Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) is to investigate Sulli Deals accused Kunal Sharma's claims of mental issues, said Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) on August 18, 2021.

DCW Spokesperson Rahul Tahiliani told SabrangIndia, "Sharma’s mother claimed before the concerned court that her son suffered from mental issues and required professional attention." Accordingly, the court has sent the accused to IHBAS to confirm this claim.

DCW Chairperson Swati Maliwal tweeted the court order on Wednesday afternoon stating that, “Crime against women of any religion is not tolerated!”

Sharma was in the news for allegedly putting up derogatory posts “auctioning” Muslim women and allegedly encouraging men to sexually assault them. To this end, he shared the contact details of many Muslim women using the Sulli Deals app and website and named the whole incident “Muslim Ladki Patao Abhiyan” (programme for wooing Muslim women). At the time, the DCW filed an FIR with the Delhi police against the communal and sexist act. 

Sharma is one of the disciples of right-wing hate-speech spokesperson Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati. Around August 12, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) approached the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) to take cognisance against his Islamophobic statements aiming to provoke young Hindu men against Muslims. Yati reportedly calls such people “his children.”

Speaking to SabrangIndia Co-Founder and Editor Teesta Setalvad, Noor Mahvish, one of the women who was lsited for auction on the app said, "I feel like I am being punished for being an outspoken Indian Muslim woman. The incident made me feel like I wasn't safe anymore. But I will not stay silent."

While the DCW has confirmed that the complaint has been filed with the DCP Cyber Cell, the survivor nonetheless condemned the police for their lax attitude from the start. It was quite an ordeal for the survivor to get the FIR filed in the first place.

Related:

Being a Muslim woman in India
CJP approaches NCM against Yati Narsinghanand’s hate speech
 CJP Impact: Twitter suspends 21 accounts threatening Muslim women with sexual violence
391 complaints of sexual harassment at workplace received from Central Ministries: Government

 

Sulli Deals case: IBHAS to investigate accused Kunal Sharma's claims of mental illness

DCW says that the accused’s mother claimed before court that he suffered from mental problems, therefore it was important to verify the claim

Silli DealImage Courtesy:siasat.com

The Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) is to investigate Sulli Deals accused Kunal Sharma's claims of mental issues, said Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) on August 18, 2021.

DCW Spokesperson Rahul Tahiliani told SabrangIndia, "Sharma’s mother claimed before the concerned court that her son suffered from mental issues and required professional attention." Accordingly, the court has sent the accused to IHBAS to confirm this claim.

DCW Chairperson Swati Maliwal tweeted the court order on Wednesday afternoon stating that, “Crime against women of any religion is not tolerated!”

Sharma was in the news for allegedly putting up derogatory posts “auctioning” Muslim women and allegedly encouraging men to sexually assault them. To this end, he shared the contact details of many Muslim women using the Sulli Deals app and website and named the whole incident “Muslim Ladki Patao Abhiyan” (programme for wooing Muslim women). At the time, the DCW filed an FIR with the Delhi police against the communal and sexist act. 

Sharma is one of the disciples of right-wing hate-speech spokesperson Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati. Around August 12, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) approached the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) to take cognisance against his Islamophobic statements aiming to provoke young Hindu men against Muslims. Yati reportedly calls such people “his children.”

Speaking to SabrangIndia Co-Founder and Editor Teesta Setalvad, Noor Mahvish, one of the women who was lsited for auction on the app said, "I feel like I am being punished for being an outspoken Indian Muslim woman. The incident made me feel like I wasn't safe anymore. But I will not stay silent."

While the DCW has confirmed that the complaint has been filed with the DCP Cyber Cell, the survivor nonetheless condemned the police for their lax attitude from the start. It was quite an ordeal for the survivor to get the FIR filed in the first place.

Related:

Being a Muslim woman in India
CJP approaches NCM against Yati Narsinghanand’s hate speech
 CJP Impact: Twitter suspends 21 accounts threatening Muslim women with sexual violence
391 complaints of sexual harassment at workplace received from Central Ministries: Government

 

Related Articles


Theme

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Being a Muslim woman in India

First person account of a young woman harassed online as part of the “Sulli Deals” auction scandal

11 Aug 2021

Sulli Deal

India is known for its multi-traditional and cultural values. People practice different faiths, speak different languages, are of different colours, cultures and traditions. “Unity in diversity” in the world's largest democracy. But when it comes to a particular community, things change and views differ, values change.

Even within law enforcement and judicial appraisals, identities matter. India glorifies women as goddesses, but when it comes to women (and men) of one particular community, the “Muslim community”, things are very different. So much that the “auction” of Muslim women is treated as normal, as if it were akin to the auction of clothes or sale of groceries! Or maybe ‘She’ is just flavour of the month (or day).

On July 4, 2021, I, Noor Mahvish, a third-year law student and student activist from Kolkata, saw a subject going viral on Twitter. Dubbed as the “Objectification of Muslim women”, my first response was that “this is not new”; such objectification of Muslim women and hate speech against the Muslim community is common, a sick political attention-grabbing tactic by the followers of Veer Damodar Savarkar and Nathu Ram Godse.

Soon, however, I realised that here was something different. There exists an app named “Sulli Deal”, that has uploaded the pictures of Muslim women, also making public their personal Twitter handles and all other information. The Sulli Deal app that was hosted on GitHub listed (as if to auction) the profiles Muslim women with their pictures, as if they were objects. My picture and information were also made public. Along with me, there were 80 other Muslim women who have been listed (sic) on that app. The Women who were targeted are very vocal on social media, they proudly represent their community and are bravely fighting against this fascist regime. The most common thread behind those listed on Sulli Deal is that they are vocal Indian Muslim women.

Shocked to see that Muslim women are being “auctioned” by this Sulli Deal App, I checked out the app myself and was shocked to find a few of my social media friends also derogatorily portrayed there. It was on July 5, 2021, a day later, that I got to know that I, too, am listed in the app as a "Sulli Deal". Sulli is a derogatory term which is used against women and on Sulli Deal, Muslim women were portrayed as “loose” and “available” women, much like a piece of chocolate or a material object which is being auctioned by the host. Clearly, people were actually enjoying this.

I was completely shocked to find myself on the list. I have faced Islamophobia in my school days. I was a hijabia (woman wearing the hijab) from a very early age because I love wearing it. I come from a town near Allahabad city and have experienced targeted humiliation: a few bikers coming by shouting slogans like "Pakistan bhej denge" (will send you to Pakistan). I actually wanted to become a doctor, but this incident impacted my life so deeply that I changed direction completely and took up the challenge to uplift and fight for community rights, and equality, and non-discrimination, against the fascist regime. It was after this incident my thoughts and priorities underwent a complete change. The first-hand experience of this level and extent of Islamophobia in India was enough to bring home the realisation that I don't feel safe anymore, as an Indian Muslim woman. I decided to continue with studies in Law, so that I could then begin to fight –legally-- Fascism in general and the discrimination that the Muslim community faces in general.

The 2002, Gujarat carnage stands out for its extensive and specific targeting of women, young girls and children, who were subjected to the most sadistic and vicious forms of violence, all and only because they were Muslim. A majority of the women who suffered this violence were then burnt alive. Amongst the survivors, many have spoken about the assaults but many have been silenced for fear of further attacks and for fear of censure from their own families and community. Besides the lack of faith in the system of justice, the humiliation faced by women who dare to challenge taboos and demand punishment for gender crimes like rape, have been silenced as has been the natural cry for retribution and justice.

The “sexual violence” across the state of Gujarat consisted of en-forced nudity, mass rapes, gang-rapes, mutilation, insertion of objects into bodies, cutting of breasts, slitting the stomach and reproductive organs, and carving of Hindu religious symbols on women’s body parts.

The Nellie Massacre in 1983 in Assam. Nearly 2,000 Muslims were slaughtered by a mob in just over six hours.

Delhi in 1984, where Indian Sikhs in general and Sikh women in particular were targeted, Meerut-Hashimpura in 1987, Bhagalpur in 1989, and Bombay in 1992-93, to name just a few. In each and every such genocidal carnage against the Muslim community, and other minorities, Muslim women have been raped and have faced an extreme level of brutality.

The followers of Veer Damodar Savarkar are closely following his footsteps. In Savarkar’s treatise to a militarized Hindu nation in the making, he exhorted followers to use "Rape as a  Political Tool.” Criticising the medieval ruler Shivaji for showing compassion and empathy to women and girls of captured populations, he strongly advocated (sic), the rape and impregnation of Muslim women as a “political tool to ensure the subjugation of the Muslim community”.

In 2018, the Kathua Rape case saw an eight-year-old Muslim girl from the nomadic Bakherwal community in Jammu being raped inside the precincts of a temple. Widespread protests followed, including the sickening mobilisation(s) to side with and in support of the accused. People have protested in favour of rapist, because the rapist belongs to upper caste of Brahmins (caste who believe that they are superior above all). Being raped being auctioned or being gangraped or any other extreme level of brutality is fine if it is happening to Muslim community (Muslim Women, or even Dalit girls and women).

There are so many Islamophobic incidents, even potentially genocidal in character, every day. Only a few get high-lighted however, because this orchestrated hate is not a widespread concern among Indians.

When I first saw my picture on Sulli deals, I was completely at a loss for words. It took me three days to come forward and even file a complaint at the police station because my hopes (for justice) were too low. Not a single main-stream media outlet is ready to highlight the issue about this auction of Muslim women consistently because it is not a matter of wider concern. “They are Muslim women, not high class/ upper caste Brahmin women” to get the chance and privilege of a wider outrage is what appears to be their reason for ignoring us. This is a matter of concern. It has been around a month now, but not a single arrest has taken place. There is no campaign in any national newspaper or media outlet (the Fourth Pillar of Democracy). After being “sold and auctioned” by Sulli Deals, it took another month, a whole month, for my complaint to be converted into an FIR! “If there is such a struggle to get one FIR registered, I cannot imagine how much one will have to struggle to finally get justice,” is the bleak thought that crosses my mind.

The deep mental trauma of this experience is with me each day. It cannot be completely verbalised. I know I am being put through this hate and humiliation test just because I am a vocal Muslim woman. Is this the penalty I am being made to pay because of my articulate battle against a fascist regime?

Moreover, the Bio of the App (Sulli deals) also contains the (militarised) slogan of present-day politicised Hindu culture "Jai Shree Ram". In India, the slogan "Jai shree Ram" is not a religious slogan anymore. It has turn into a political slogan to gain attention, to incite the killing of Muslims in the name of Lord Ram. From Danish to Phelu khan, Tabrez Ansari, Ekhlaq khan...and the list goes on. Hundreds of Muslims were killed in the name of the Cow and Lord Ram. Hate crimes against the Muslim community are increasing day by day.

Interestingly, some people are trying to dilute (de-categorise) the whole issue by saying, “Sulli Deal is a matter for all women. It is a Women’s issue and is the result of patriarchy.” Undoubtedly it is. But it is much, much more deep-rooted than just that. It is also reflective of a deep-rooted Islamophobia. It is not just a gender issue. It is much more than conveying just misogynistic thoughts. It is all about Muslim women, they have targeted us because of our religious identity. Please stop presenting this issue as simply or only a Women’s issue. In 2019, when Muslim women were leading the world's largest peaceful protest against a fascist government, they had to face patriarchy and misogynistic comments. Then too, “other” women were promoting/urging the rape of Muslim women.

“There is only one solution for them (Muslims). Hindu brothers should make a group of 10 and gang rape their (Muslims) mothers and sisters openly on the streets and then hang them in the middle of the bazaar for others to see,” said a social media post in Hindi by Sunita Singh Gaur, a BJP Mahila morcha Leader. She goes on to say that Muslim mothers and sisters should have their “honour looted” as there is “no other way” to “protect India”.

The “Auction of Muslim women” doesn't even get the attention it deserves because it is all about being Muslim women.

Lastly, I want to convey my message to everyone. Maybe you can forget these series of derogatory acts against me and the Muslim community. Maybe you will, or can ‘move on’ to other issues, but believe me, those who have faced this, just like I am going through the trauma, this “auction” will haunt us for the rest of our lives.

I will fight to get justice through legal means. I can’t let this go, am not ashamed of my identity and my thoughts, you cannot break my spirit to fight against Islamophobia and fascism. The person who did this and the group of people who were praising and supporting these derogatory depictions, should be ashamed of their own identity.

 

*Note from the author: I am a 3rd year law student and student activist. Am nothing but a woman who has dared to speak against the fascist regime. Nothing but a Muslim who objects to the discrimination.  I have been actively involved in many social development projects to eradicate poverty, am working to educate children irrespective of caste and religion.

Related:

391 complaints of sexual harassment at workplace received from Central Ministries: Government
 CJP Impact: Twitter suspends 21 accounts threatening Muslim women with sexual violence

Being a Muslim woman in India

First person account of a young woman harassed online as part of the “Sulli Deals” auction scandal

Sulli Deal

India is known for its multi-traditional and cultural values. People practice different faiths, speak different languages, are of different colours, cultures and traditions. “Unity in diversity” in the world's largest democracy. But when it comes to a particular community, things change and views differ, values change.

Even within law enforcement and judicial appraisals, identities matter. India glorifies women as goddesses, but when it comes to women (and men) of one particular community, the “Muslim community”, things are very different. So much that the “auction” of Muslim women is treated as normal, as if it were akin to the auction of clothes or sale of groceries! Or maybe ‘She’ is just flavour of the month (or day).

On July 4, 2021, I, Noor Mahvish, a third-year law student and student activist from Kolkata, saw a subject going viral on Twitter. Dubbed as the “Objectification of Muslim women”, my first response was that “this is not new”; such objectification of Muslim women and hate speech against the Muslim community is common, a sick political attention-grabbing tactic by the followers of Veer Damodar Savarkar and Nathu Ram Godse.

Soon, however, I realised that here was something different. There exists an app named “Sulli Deal”, that has uploaded the pictures of Muslim women, also making public their personal Twitter handles and all other information. The Sulli Deal app that was hosted on GitHub listed (as if to auction) the profiles Muslim women with their pictures, as if they were objects. My picture and information were also made public. Along with me, there were 80 other Muslim women who have been listed (sic) on that app. The Women who were targeted are very vocal on social media, they proudly represent their community and are bravely fighting against this fascist regime. The most common thread behind those listed on Sulli Deal is that they are vocal Indian Muslim women.

Shocked to see that Muslim women are being “auctioned” by this Sulli Deal App, I checked out the app myself and was shocked to find a few of my social media friends also derogatorily portrayed there. It was on July 5, 2021, a day later, that I got to know that I, too, am listed in the app as a "Sulli Deal". Sulli is a derogatory term which is used against women and on Sulli Deal, Muslim women were portrayed as “loose” and “available” women, much like a piece of chocolate or a material object which is being auctioned by the host. Clearly, people were actually enjoying this.

I was completely shocked to find myself on the list. I have faced Islamophobia in my school days. I was a hijabia (woman wearing the hijab) from a very early age because I love wearing it. I come from a town near Allahabad city and have experienced targeted humiliation: a few bikers coming by shouting slogans like "Pakistan bhej denge" (will send you to Pakistan). I actually wanted to become a doctor, but this incident impacted my life so deeply that I changed direction completely and took up the challenge to uplift and fight for community rights, and equality, and non-discrimination, against the fascist regime. It was after this incident my thoughts and priorities underwent a complete change. The first-hand experience of this level and extent of Islamophobia in India was enough to bring home the realisation that I don't feel safe anymore, as an Indian Muslim woman. I decided to continue with studies in Law, so that I could then begin to fight –legally-- Fascism in general and the discrimination that the Muslim community faces in general.

The 2002, Gujarat carnage stands out for its extensive and specific targeting of women, young girls and children, who were subjected to the most sadistic and vicious forms of violence, all and only because they were Muslim. A majority of the women who suffered this violence were then burnt alive. Amongst the survivors, many have spoken about the assaults but many have been silenced for fear of further attacks and for fear of censure from their own families and community. Besides the lack of faith in the system of justice, the humiliation faced by women who dare to challenge taboos and demand punishment for gender crimes like rape, have been silenced as has been the natural cry for retribution and justice.

The “sexual violence” across the state of Gujarat consisted of en-forced nudity, mass rapes, gang-rapes, mutilation, insertion of objects into bodies, cutting of breasts, slitting the stomach and reproductive organs, and carving of Hindu religious symbols on women’s body parts.

The Nellie Massacre in 1983 in Assam. Nearly 2,000 Muslims were slaughtered by a mob in just over six hours.

Delhi in 1984, where Indian Sikhs in general and Sikh women in particular were targeted, Meerut-Hashimpura in 1987, Bhagalpur in 1989, and Bombay in 1992-93, to name just a few. In each and every such genocidal carnage against the Muslim community, and other minorities, Muslim women have been raped and have faced an extreme level of brutality.

The followers of Veer Damodar Savarkar are closely following his footsteps. In Savarkar’s treatise to a militarized Hindu nation in the making, he exhorted followers to use "Rape as a  Political Tool.” Criticising the medieval ruler Shivaji for showing compassion and empathy to women and girls of captured populations, he strongly advocated (sic), the rape and impregnation of Muslim women as a “political tool to ensure the subjugation of the Muslim community”.

In 2018, the Kathua Rape case saw an eight-year-old Muslim girl from the nomadic Bakherwal community in Jammu being raped inside the precincts of a temple. Widespread protests followed, including the sickening mobilisation(s) to side with and in support of the accused. People have protested in favour of rapist, because the rapist belongs to upper caste of Brahmins (caste who believe that they are superior above all). Being raped being auctioned or being gangraped or any other extreme level of brutality is fine if it is happening to Muslim community (Muslim Women, or even Dalit girls and women).

There are so many Islamophobic incidents, even potentially genocidal in character, every day. Only a few get high-lighted however, because this orchestrated hate is not a widespread concern among Indians.

When I first saw my picture on Sulli deals, I was completely at a loss for words. It took me three days to come forward and even file a complaint at the police station because my hopes (for justice) were too low. Not a single main-stream media outlet is ready to highlight the issue about this auction of Muslim women consistently because it is not a matter of wider concern. “They are Muslim women, not high class/ upper caste Brahmin women” to get the chance and privilege of a wider outrage is what appears to be their reason for ignoring us. This is a matter of concern. It has been around a month now, but not a single arrest has taken place. There is no campaign in any national newspaper or media outlet (the Fourth Pillar of Democracy). After being “sold and auctioned” by Sulli Deals, it took another month, a whole month, for my complaint to be converted into an FIR! “If there is such a struggle to get one FIR registered, I cannot imagine how much one will have to struggle to finally get justice,” is the bleak thought that crosses my mind.

The deep mental trauma of this experience is with me each day. It cannot be completely verbalised. I know I am being put through this hate and humiliation test just because I am a vocal Muslim woman. Is this the penalty I am being made to pay because of my articulate battle against a fascist regime?

Moreover, the Bio of the App (Sulli deals) also contains the (militarised) slogan of present-day politicised Hindu culture "Jai Shree Ram". In India, the slogan "Jai shree Ram" is not a religious slogan anymore. It has turn into a political slogan to gain attention, to incite the killing of Muslims in the name of Lord Ram. From Danish to Phelu khan, Tabrez Ansari, Ekhlaq khan...and the list goes on. Hundreds of Muslims were killed in the name of the Cow and Lord Ram. Hate crimes against the Muslim community are increasing day by day.

Interestingly, some people are trying to dilute (de-categorise) the whole issue by saying, “Sulli Deal is a matter for all women. It is a Women’s issue and is the result of patriarchy.” Undoubtedly it is. But it is much, much more deep-rooted than just that. It is also reflective of a deep-rooted Islamophobia. It is not just a gender issue. It is much more than conveying just misogynistic thoughts. It is all about Muslim women, they have targeted us because of our religious identity. Please stop presenting this issue as simply or only a Women’s issue. In 2019, when Muslim women were leading the world's largest peaceful protest against a fascist government, they had to face patriarchy and misogynistic comments. Then too, “other” women were promoting/urging the rape of Muslim women.

“There is only one solution for them (Muslims). Hindu brothers should make a group of 10 and gang rape their (Muslims) mothers and sisters openly on the streets and then hang them in the middle of the bazaar for others to see,” said a social media post in Hindi by Sunita Singh Gaur, a BJP Mahila morcha Leader. She goes on to say that Muslim mothers and sisters should have their “honour looted” as there is “no other way” to “protect India”.

The “Auction of Muslim women” doesn't even get the attention it deserves because it is all about being Muslim women.

Lastly, I want to convey my message to everyone. Maybe you can forget these series of derogatory acts against me and the Muslim community. Maybe you will, or can ‘move on’ to other issues, but believe me, those who have faced this, just like I am going through the trauma, this “auction” will haunt us for the rest of our lives.

I will fight to get justice through legal means. I can’t let this go, am not ashamed of my identity and my thoughts, you cannot break my spirit to fight against Islamophobia and fascism. The person who did this and the group of people who were praising and supporting these derogatory depictions, should be ashamed of their own identity.

 

*Note from the author: I am a 3rd year law student and student activist. Am nothing but a woman who has dared to speak against the fascist regime. Nothing but a Muslim who objects to the discrimination.  I have been actively involved in many social development projects to eradicate poverty, am working to educate children irrespective of caste and religion.

Related:

391 complaints of sexual harassment at workplace received from Central Ministries: Government
 CJP Impact: Twitter suspends 21 accounts threatening Muslim women with sexual violence

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