Skip to main content
Sabrang
Sabrang
Rule of Law Gender and Sexuality

Mumbai Court grants bail to three students in the Bulli Bai app case

A Mumbai court while granting bail to three students in the Bulli Bai app case, which targeted Muslim women by arranging for their "auction", held that their "immature age and understanding" was misused by other accused with "deeper understanding".

Sabrangindia 22 Jun 2022

Mumbai Session Court
Image Courtesy: thehindu.com

The Mumbai sessions court on Tuesday, June 21, 2022 granted bail to the three accusedAumkareshwar Thakur, NeerajBishnoi and Neeraj Singh in the ‘Bulli Bai’/’Sulli Deals’ cases who were still in custody. As the three other accused, Shweta Singh (18) and MayankRawat (21), who hail from Uttarakhand and Vishal Jha (21) a resident of Bangalore in the cases had already been granted bail earlier this year, all six accused in the cases are now out on bail. All three accused have been restricted from travelling abroad without prior permission of the court and have also been directed to appear before the police once every month.

According to the live Law, The FIR against them was registered earlier this month against necessary Twitter handles and the developer of Bulli Bai The offences are Sections 153A (promoting enmity on grounds of religion etc), 153B (imputations prejudicial to national-integration), 295A (insulting religious beliefs), 354D (stalking), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman), 500 (criminal defamation) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 67 (publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form) of Information Technology Act, 2000.

As part of its relentless HateWatch campaign, CJP had complained to Twitter in May-June 2021 against abuse and intimidation at Muslim women through twitter accounts. In response, Twitter had taken action against 21 twitter accounts for threatening Muslim women with sexual violence and violating the Twitter rules and guidance in early July 21.

CJP in its complaint dated May 26, had also brought to Twitter’s attention certain posts made through these accounts that that demeaned Muslim women as “sex objects for Hindu men”. The content displayed pornographic videos of women in hijab with inflammatory captions presenting Muslim women as objects meant to be sexually exploited, and also photoshopped pictures of Hindu men and pregnant women in saffron hijab. Out of these, Twitter has removed 11 posts for violating Twitter norms.

In addition to this, certain reported accounts had already been removed after our complaint and thus, Twitter could not take appropriate action. Twitter also informed us that another online post reported by us was not hosted by it, and appeared to be posted on a third-party website (Facebook). CJP shall pursue this with Facebook and it intends to keep a close track of such content on all digital platforms and file complaints before appropriate authority as part of our sustained Hate Watch Campaign.

Facts of the case

On January 1, 2022, several Muslim women found themselves on 'auction' on an app called Bulli Bai. The app hosted by the GitHub platform had used their photographs, many of them doctored. According to the victims, the profiles, which contained images and other personal details of the victims, were created and being propagated without the consent of the women.

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 NeerajBishnoi (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 NeerajBishnoiinearly 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."

Court’s Order

In the session’s court’s June 21 order, additional sessions judge A.B. Sharma directed that the accused be released upon furnishing a Rs 50,000 bail bond along with one or two sureties of the same amount,Bar and Benchreported.Their bail conditions included that they must pay monthly visits to the cyber police station and that they can not leave the country without the prior permission of the court. In the bail application, submitted through advocate ShivamDeshmukh, several grounds were put forth arguing for the grant of bail. It argued that the accused had been falsely implicated in the case and have not committed the alleged offences; that they are not the creators of the app and were merely followers, which does not constitute an offence; and that since the punishment for the offences is less than three years, incarceration is unwarranted.

Further, the application argued that they had already been granted bail from a Delhi court and that their co-accused had already been granted bail; and that since all the relevant electronic evidence has been seized, the cannot tamper with it.Interestingly, Deshmukh even contended that the charges against the applicants which allege the incitement of disharmony among different religions do not hold because only one religion (Islam) was targeted.Finally, the application argued that the accused hail from ‘respectable’ families and that the alleged act is, therefore, ‘beyond imagination’. Yet, it stated that even if the allegations are true, the court should take a “fatherly view” and that the accused require counselling rather than incarceration.

Bulli Bai/Sulli Deals

Sulli Deals’ put up photographs of Indian Muslim women, listing them for “sale”, a similar website and app by the name of ‘Bulli Bai’ has triggered outrage. For those who may not be aware, ‘Bulli/Sulli’ are Islamophobic slurs referring to Muslim women, alterations of the term ‘Mulli’ often used by the right wing to troll Muslim women.

In July 2021, nearly 80 Muslim women were targeted and put up “for sale” on the S**li Deals app, on Githuband 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 NeerajBishnoi from Jorhat, Assam on January 6, 2022, AumkareshwarThakurwas 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 MayankRawal 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 NirajBishnoi 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 SwasthyaAbhiyan (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
Bulli Bai case: Are arrests enough to quell the storm?
CJP approaches Twitter over sexually violent content against Muslim women
I’m a vocal Indian Muslim woman, not an object to be auctioned

Mumbai Court grants bail to three students in the Bulli Bai app case

A Mumbai court while granting bail to three students in the Bulli Bai app case, which targeted Muslim women by arranging for their "auction", held that their "immature age and understanding" was misused by other accused with "deeper understanding".

Mumbai Session Court
Image Courtesy: thehindu.com

The Mumbai sessions court on Tuesday, June 21, 2022 granted bail to the three accusedAumkareshwar Thakur, NeerajBishnoi and Neeraj Singh in the ‘Bulli Bai’/’Sulli Deals’ cases who were still in custody. As the three other accused, Shweta Singh (18) and MayankRawat (21), who hail from Uttarakhand and Vishal Jha (21) a resident of Bangalore in the cases had already been granted bail earlier this year, all six accused in the cases are now out on bail. All three accused have been restricted from travelling abroad without prior permission of the court and have also been directed to appear before the police once every month.

According to the live Law, The FIR against them was registered earlier this month against necessary Twitter handles and the developer of Bulli Bai The offences are Sections 153A (promoting enmity on grounds of religion etc), 153B (imputations prejudicial to national-integration), 295A (insulting religious beliefs), 354D (stalking), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman), 500 (criminal defamation) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 67 (publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form) of Information Technology Act, 2000.

As part of its relentless HateWatch campaign, CJP had complained to Twitter in May-June 2021 against abuse and intimidation at Muslim women through twitter accounts. In response, Twitter had taken action against 21 twitter accounts for threatening Muslim women with sexual violence and violating the Twitter rules and guidance in early July 21.

CJP in its complaint dated May 26, had also brought to Twitter’s attention certain posts made through these accounts that that demeaned Muslim women as “sex objects for Hindu men”. The content displayed pornographic videos of women in hijab with inflammatory captions presenting Muslim women as objects meant to be sexually exploited, and also photoshopped pictures of Hindu men and pregnant women in saffron hijab. Out of these, Twitter has removed 11 posts for violating Twitter norms.

In addition to this, certain reported accounts had already been removed after our complaint and thus, Twitter could not take appropriate action. Twitter also informed us that another online post reported by us was not hosted by it, and appeared to be posted on a third-party website (Facebook). CJP shall pursue this with Facebook and it intends to keep a close track of such content on all digital platforms and file complaints before appropriate authority as part of our sustained Hate Watch Campaign.

Facts of the case

On January 1, 2022, several Muslim women found themselves on 'auction' on an app called Bulli Bai. The app hosted by the GitHub platform had used their photographs, many of them doctored. According to the victims, the profiles, which contained images and other personal details of the victims, were created and being propagated without the consent of the women.

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 NeerajBishnoi (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 NeerajBishnoiinearly 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."

Court’s Order

In the session’s court’s June 21 order, additional sessions judge A.B. Sharma directed that the accused be released upon furnishing a Rs 50,000 bail bond along with one or two sureties of the same amount,Bar and Benchreported.Their bail conditions included that they must pay monthly visits to the cyber police station and that they can not leave the country without the prior permission of the court. In the bail application, submitted through advocate ShivamDeshmukh, several grounds were put forth arguing for the grant of bail. It argued that the accused had been falsely implicated in the case and have not committed the alleged offences; that they are not the creators of the app and were merely followers, which does not constitute an offence; and that since the punishment for the offences is less than three years, incarceration is unwarranted.

Further, the application argued that they had already been granted bail from a Delhi court and that their co-accused had already been granted bail; and that since all the relevant electronic evidence has been seized, the cannot tamper with it.Interestingly, Deshmukh even contended that the charges against the applicants which allege the incitement of disharmony among different religions do not hold because only one religion (Islam) was targeted.Finally, the application argued that the accused hail from ‘respectable’ families and that the alleged act is, therefore, ‘beyond imagination’. Yet, it stated that even if the allegations are true, the court should take a “fatherly view” and that the accused require counselling rather than incarceration.

Bulli Bai/Sulli Deals

Sulli Deals’ put up photographs of Indian Muslim women, listing them for “sale”, a similar website and app by the name of ‘Bulli Bai’ has triggered outrage. For those who may not be aware, ‘Bulli/Sulli’ are Islamophobic slurs referring to Muslim women, alterations of the term ‘Mulli’ often used by the right wing to troll Muslim women.

In July 2021, nearly 80 Muslim women were targeted and put up “for sale” on the S**li Deals app, on Githuband 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 NeerajBishnoi from Jorhat, Assam on January 6, 2022, AumkareshwarThakurwas 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 MayankRawal 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 NirajBishnoi 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 SwasthyaAbhiyan (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
Bulli Bai case: Are arrests enough to quell the storm?
CJP approaches Twitter over sexually violent content against Muslim women
I’m a vocal Indian Muslim woman, not an object to be auctioned

Related Articles

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

Theme

Stop Hate

Hate and Harmony in 2021

A recap of all that transpired across India in terms of hate speech and even outright hate crimes, as well as the persecution of those who dared to speak up against hate. This disturbing harvest of hate should now push us to do more to forge harmony.
Taliban 2021

Taliban in Afghanistan: A look back

Communalism Combat had taken a deep dive into the lives of people of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Here we reproduce some of our archives documenting the plight of hapless Afghanis, especially women, who suffered the most under the hardline regime.
2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.

Campaigns

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

Videos

Communalism

Hate Speech is rampant while Free speech is criminalised | Teesta Setalvad

Eminent speakers like Justice Anjana Prakash, Saba Naqvi expressed grave concerns over the draconian laws, used to put down the struggles of the labouring masses and the manner in which the law enforcement have been taking down students, academicians, political and human rights activists, artists, Dalits, Muslims and tribal people.

Communalism

Hate Speech is rampant while Free speech is criminalised | Teesta Setalvad

Eminent speakers like Justice Anjana Prakash, Saba Naqvi expressed grave concerns over the draconian laws, used to put down the struggles of the labouring masses and the manner in which the law enforcement have been taking down students, academicians, political and human rights activists, artists, Dalits, Muslims and tribal people.

IN FACT

Analysis

Stop Hate

Hate and Harmony in 2021

A recap of all that transpired across India in terms of hate speech and even outright hate crimes, as well as the persecution of those who dared to speak up against hate. This disturbing harvest of hate should now push us to do more to forge harmony.
Taliban 2021

Taliban in Afghanistan: A look back

Communalism Combat had taken a deep dive into the lives of people of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Here we reproduce some of our archives documenting the plight of hapless Afghanis, especially women, who suffered the most under the hardline regime.
2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.

Archives