The New Year hangover was yet to settle and the day began on a controversial note when photographs of more than 80 Muslim women were put up for auction on App called Bulli Bai. There was outrage on social media; those women victims demanded arrest; some demanded a probe and many have already condemned the outrage. Well, these were just the routine reactions to the action.
If you go beyond the said controversy and look into the matter, you will find two targets, one is the Sikh community because the App’s major language is Punjabi and the logo is the turban. The victims are Muslim women. Earlier also when West Bengal elections were due, a similar kind of app #SulliDeal emerged from nowhere, there was a huge uproar on social media until the App got banned and culprits were scot-free.
Uttar Pradesh elections are approaching, BJP is apprehensive about the win. They tried their level best to create ruckus during Farmer’s agitation. Maximum farmers are Sikhs. BJP It cell and supporters tried changing the narrative of protest calling them Khalistani terrorists but could not succeed in creating hate or anger against the community. Most Sikh’s don’t support the BJP. Among Sikh’s only a few Khatris/Arora Sikh’s support BJP. Jat Sikh’s are mostly Anti-BJP, Uttar Pradesh to Haryana Jats are the dominant voters. By creating the App in the Punjabi language and making it the logo of the turban logo, the App developers thought of bringing Sikhs in a bad light.
BJP is already anti-Muslim; the right-wing supporters openly spew venom against the Muslim community. Hindutva leaders called for Muslim genocide in Haridwar. Right-wing activist Suresh Chavhanke gave a call to “fight, die and kill if required” to make India a “Hindu nation.” BJP expected riots like situations but Muslims did not fall for the bait. Their plan to create a riot-like situation failed. In spite of such derogatory statements Home Minister, Amit Shah maintained mute mode and as we all know Narendra Modi never speaks about the burning issues in the country.
To irritate Muslims, again the row surrounding the app named ‘Bulli Bai’ is similar to last July’s ‘Sulli Deals’, in which nearly 80 Muslim women were put up ‘for sale’. The ‘Bulli Bai’ app was created on the Microsoft-owned open software development site GitHub. For those who don’t know, ‘Bulli’ is a derogatory word used for Muslim women in local slang.
Twitter has suspended an account that had been sharing links to the app hosted on GitHub. The Twitter handle had the same name as the objectionable app. Earlier in June 2021, another app with a name similar to the one currently under investigation had appeared on GitHub with pictures of Muslim women captioned ‘deal of the day’.
Subsequently, on 7 and 8 July, police in Noida and Delhi had registered separate FIRs against unknown persons in the case, but nothing has come out of the investigations so far. The incident went viral when a woman journalist shared an image of her being sold on the Bulli Bai app as ‘deal of the day’. Taking to Twitter, the journalist said it was “very sad that as a Muslim woman you have to start your new year with this sense of fear and disgust.” Quratulain Rehbar, a journalist from Kashmir, was also listed on the ‘online auction’.
The app pulled photos from the social media profiles of Muslim women without consent. The pictures were put up for display as the visitor’s “deal of the day.” The uploading of pictures on the ‘Bulli Bai’ app was similar to the ‘Sulli Deals’ upload in July last year. The ‘Bulli Bai’ app worked just the same way as Sulli Deals did. Once opened, a Muslim woman’s face was randomly displayed as ‘Bulli Bai’.
Two FIRs were filed by the Delhi and Uttar Pradesh Police in the Sulli Deals incident last year after photos of Muslim women were misused, but no concrete action has been taken against the perpetrators so far. It isn’t clear if the same rules were used in ‘Sulli Deals’ and are being invoked in the case of ‘Bulli Bai’ to ask the hosting platform to identify the user for taking action. Now Mumbai cyber police have initiated a probe. The controversial app Bulli Bai has been blocked by the hosting platform GitHub following complaints of objectionable content.
The social media platforms made noises but smart minorities did not fall into the trap by getting into violence or making any move to call for riots. One more attempt failed, but we need to be more cautious because all these things will keep happening till 2024.
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