A Metropolitan Magistrate Court in Bandra, granted bail to three of the six accused in the B**li Bai case. The Court observed that the three had minimal role to play and they were at a tender and immature age, which were misused by the other older accused.
On April 12, 2022, Magistrate Komal Singh Rajput granted bail to Vishal Kumar Jha, Shweta Singh and Mayank Agarwal and refused bail to Omkareshwar Thakur and Neeraj Singh. The third accused Neeraj Bishnoi has been asked to file a fresh application as the application submitted to the Court was neither signed by him nor his advocate.
The Magistrate granting bail observed that they are students of very tender age and they are expecting to appear for exams, and if they are allowed to remain in jail, it will adversely affect their future prospects.
The Court also requested the parents or guardians of the accused, who were granted bail, to provide them with counseling on norms of social conduct, including conduct on social media.
As reported by Live Law, the three accused were granted bail of Rs. 25,000 each along with a personal bond and surety bond. They have been directed to furnish detailed addresses of themselves, their parents and sureties and relevant proofs, along with all their mobile numbers.
The court also added that the record of the investigation reflected that even if the trial commenced within a short span of time, its immediate conclusion was not possible “as the evidence of technical nature, which is spread across the country, is going to come on record.” The court said the trial will “take substantial time,” reported Live Law.
Background of the case
In July 2021, nearly 80 Muslim women were targeted and put up “for auction” on the S**li Deals app, and 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 was 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 Neeraj Bishnoi from Jorhat, Assam on January 6, 2022, Omkareshwar Thakur was arrested from Indore, Madhya Pradesh on January 9, 2022. Arrests were also made by Mumbai Police around the same time wherein Vishal Kumar aka Vishal Jha a 21-year-old from Bengaluru, Karnataka, 21-year-old Mayank Rawal 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 Omkareshwar Thakur and Niraj Bishnoi 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 Citizens for Justice and Peace 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 Swasthya Abhiyan (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 have since filed a chargesheet in the case.
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