Indian police make first arrest in alleged online abuse of Muslim women

Muslim women at a festival in Srinagar, India, on Oct 19, 2021. Police in India have made the first arrest in an investigation into an app that harassed Muslim women. PHOTO: AFP

MUMBAI (REUTERS) - Indian police on Tuesday (Jan 4) said they had made their first arrest in an investigation into an online app that shared pictures of scores of Muslim women for an "auction" in a case of apparent hatred towards the minority community.

In recent days, several Indian Muslim women said on social media that their pictures had been used without consent to create an open source app on the GitHub platform.

The app was called Bulli Bai, a derogatory term to describe Muslim women.

Ismat Ara, a journalist targeted by the app, said in a police complaint filed on Sunday that it was an attempt to harass Muslim women.

"The said 'github' is violent, threatening and intending to create a feeling of fear and shame in my mind, as well as in the minds of women in general, and the Muslim community whose women are being targeting in this hateful manner," said the complaint, which Ara posted on social media.

A senior police official in the western city of Mumbai said that its cyber crime division had arrested a 21-year-old man and also detained a woman in the northern state of Uttarakhand in connection with the incident.

"Both of the accused know each other," the official said.

India's Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said last Saturday that GitHub had confirmed blocking the user who created the app.

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