Unfortunately, this insult and humiliation of the women in India is not limited only to the Muslim women; almost all women belonging to the minority communities are facing the same type of exploitation and black-mailing.
by Ali Sukhanver
According to different media reports, the Mumbai Police had registered a First Information Report against some unidentified persons following complaints that doctored photographs of hundreds of Muslim women were uploaded without any permission for ‘auction’ on the mobile application called Bulli Bai. This app is hosted on the open-source software platform GitHub and has simply become a blob of disgrace on the face of the Indian society. Most of the targeted women included journalists, lawyers and active social media users vocal on burning political and social issues belonging to different age groups. This nefarious activity came to the surface on the first day of the New Year 2022. In his recent write up published in the Wire, Dr. N.C. Asthana said, “Bulli Bai is not just another crime but a design to humiliate Muslims; treating this as just another crime amounts to reducing the gravity of the sinister machinations. Tomorrow the hate-mongers will easily find another way of harassing Muslim women online.” Dr. Asthana further said, “In a similar incident last year, an app called ‘Sulli Deals’ had taken publicly available pictures of mostly Muslim women and created profiles, describing the women as deals of the day.
On October 30, 2021, the Internet Freedom Foundation had reported that even 118 days later, in spite of the furor and two FIRs having been lodged against it, no arrests had been made. Not surprisingly, they have still not been arrested.” It is also a very shocking rather alarming fact that by giving photographs of turbaned persons in their profile pictures, the handlers of this app tried to give the users an impression that this web-application is supervised and patronized by the people belonging to the Sikh community. In the comments section of the app, the handlers intentionally used text in the Punjabi script just to mislead the users about their identity. The Mumbai police said in its investigation report that the names related to the Sikh community were used to make it look like these Twitter handles had been created by persons from the Sikh community. The report said, “The women who were targeted were Muslim, so there was a possibility that it could have created enmity between two communities and led to breach of public peace.”
Though the cyber cell of Mumbai Police has arrested a 19-year-old girl and a 21-year-old student of engineering from Bangalore for allegedly working as the ‘brains behind the scene’ but the criminal silence of the BJP hierarchy is being severely criticized all over the country. It is also an enlightening fact that a large number of Hindus having a moderate approach with a clear cut anti extremism tilt of mind condemned this poisonous app as well as the indifference of the Modi government over the issue. Several Opposition leaders, including Congress’ Rahul Gandhi and Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi, urged the government to crack down on the platform and bring those behind it to justice.
This cyber harassment is being condemned by different social and political leaders all over India and they have called for strict action against the culprits. The Delhi Minorities Commission has termed the matter as ‘ very serious’ and issued a notice to Delhi police chief Rakesh Asthana to look into the matter and submit a detailed report by 10th of January. ‘Bulli Bai’ is the second such attempt in less than a year, following the ‘Sulli Deals’ in July last year. A lady journalist Rana Ayyub works for the Washington Post in Mumbai. She said in her report commenting on the Bulli Bai, “This app has taken hate crimes in India to a new dangerous level where Muslim women are virtually assaulted and turned into a free-for-all for a bigoted mob. These auctions of women from the minority communities display the moral degradation of India and its constitutional values.”
Unfortunately this insult and humiliation of the women in India is not limited only to the Muslim women; almost all women belonging to the minority communities are facing the same type of exploitation and black-mailing. Jhanvi Sharma a well known researcher on India’s social problems said in an article published in the Pleaders that India is ranked India as the world’s most dangerous country for women due to the high risk of sexual violence, human trafficking and slave labour. Women are more prone to violence, both sexual and non-sexual; many researchers have declared India unsafe for women, especially during riots. The crime rate against minority women is as high as ever, according to a recent study on the government’s crime records, a crime is committed against a Dalit every 18 minutes in India. The writer further says, “Every day, six of their women are raped, and 11 are beaten up. Numerous cases of rape against minority women across the country fail to get highlighted due to the failures of the criminal justice system.” It is not only the women belonging to the Muslim or other minorities; tough time is for all who are not Hindus.
The New York Times published an article of Jeffrey Gettleman and Suhasini Raj on 23rd December 2021. The article said, “The issue of conversions to Christianity from Hinduism is an especially touchy subject, one that has vexed the country for years and even drew in Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, who fiercely guarded India’s secular ideals. In the past few years, Mr. Modi and his Hindu nationalist party have tugged India far to the right, away from what many Indians see as the multicultural foundation Nehru built. The rising attacks on Christians, who make up about 2 percent of the population, are part of a broader shift in India, in which minorities feel less safe.” This pathetic situation is certainly not a ‘new-born’ situation. It all had been the same even eight years back.
A report prepared by an organization ‘Sisters for Change’ could be an eye-opener to those who feel satisfied in referring to India as the ‘Shining India’. The report said, “In 2014, crimes against Scheduled Castes or ‘Dalits’(the lowest hereditary Hindu social class in India) rose by 19% .Of crimes against Dalits, sexual assault and rape account for the top two crimes. Violence against Dalit women is borne from intersectional discrimination in terms of gender, poverty and caste and has become a social mechanism to maintain Dalit women’s subordination and reduce their capacity to participate in society or realize their rights.” Experts say that this childish attempt of putting the Muslim women on sale was nothing but an attempt to create religious tension in Punjab where elections are due this year. Certainly all these atrocities against the minorities would cast a very negative impact on the results of the upcoming elections.