Indian police arrest alleged creator of app targeting Muslim women


Police officials escort a 20-year-old man after he was arrested in the eastern state of Assam over allegedly creating an online app that shared pictures of Muslim women for a virtual "auction", at the airport in New Delhi, India, January 6, 2022. REUTERS/Stringer
Police officials escort a 20-year-old man after he was arrested in the eastern state of Assam over allegedly creating an online app that shared pictures of Muslim women for a virtual "auction", at the airport in New Delhi, India, January 6, 2022. REUTERS/Stringer

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian police said on Thursday they had arrested a 20-year-old man they suspect created an online app that shared pictures of Muslim women for a virtual "auction", as an investigation into the case of communal harassment widened.


An open source app on the Github platform called 'Bulli Bai' - a derogatory term to describe Muslim women - had shared pictures of dozens of women without their consent before it was taken down.


K.P.S Malhotra, a police official in the capital New Delhi, said his team had arrested a 20-year-old engineering student from Jorhat in the eastern state of Assam after a probe that involved the state-run Computer Emergency Response Team.


"He is the person who had created the Bullibai app on Github. He had also created the Twitter handle @bullibai_ and other handles," Malhotra said.


Police in the western city of Mumbai, who are also investigating the app, have separately arrested three people this week, including two 21-year-old engineering students and an 18-year-old woman.


Mumbai police said they were investigating whether the app, which did not involve any actual auctioning of people, was part of a "larger conspiracy".


Several Indian Muslim journalists were targeted by the app, including Ismat Ara who filed and then shared on social media a police complaint on Sunday that said the app was "designed to insult Muslim women".


"After today's arrest by @DelhiPolice, I hope the culprits behind this elaborate harassment of Muslim women, including journalists like myself, will ultimately be caught & punished," Ara said in a tweet on Thursday.