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New Delhi: The Delhi Police have said that a 21-year-old man from Assam who allegedly created the ‘Bulli Bai’ app has been arrested.
According to NDTV, a top Delhi police official identified the man as Neeraj Bishnoi. He has been brought to Delhi and will be produced in court on Thursday for police custody and further investigation.
K.P.S. Malhotra, the deputy commissioner of police (Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Operations unit), told the media that Bishnoi is the main conspirator and creator of ‘Bulli Bai’ on GitHub and the main Twitter account holder of the app.
NDTV said Bishnoi is a second-year engineering student at a Bhopal-based institute. He was arrested from his hometown in Assam’s Jorhat.
The app targeted Muslim women – including journalists, activists and students – by putting them up for ‘auction’, in a similar fashion to the earlier ‘Sulli Deals’ app. It used images stolen from social media apps to ‘auction’ women, an act that has been compared to “online sexual violence” and promoting “the crimes of trafficking and sexual slavery”.
Malhotra said that Bishnoi has “confessed about the creation of the application” and that forensic remnants of the creation have been found on his laptop. He was arrested early Thursday morning from Jorhat, the DCP said, adding that IFSO worked out the case using technical analysis, Internet Protocol Detail Records (IPDR) and other gateways.
Bishnoi is a second-year BTech student at the Vellore Institute of Technology in the Madhya Pradesh capital, the DCP said.
An Assam Police officer said the operation to arrest him lasted about 12 hours. The arrest took place within hours of the Delhi police sharing the information, a senior officer told news agency PTI.
“The Delhi police have been coordinating with us over the matter. Their team reached on Wednesday morning and by evening, we had located the accused,” he said.
The Mumbai police, which is also probing the case, did not contact the police in Jorhat regarding the accused, he added.
The Mumbai police are investigating the case based on a separate complaint and have made three arrests – two 21-year-old women and an 18-year-old woman. The Mumbai police had claimed the 18-year-old woman as the ‘mastermind‘. Of the four who have been arrested so far, two are studying engineering and one is aspiring to.
According to a senior Mumbai Police officer, the 18-year-old woman is a prime accused who had created the Twitter handle of the app. Mumbai police commissioner Hemant Nagrale told reporters on Wednesday that some more people are likely to be involved in the matter.
The Wire‘s Ismat Ara, who was among those targeted, had registered a complaint with the Delhi police, based on which a first information report was registered.
Ara’s complaint sought the registration of an FIR under IPC sections 153A (promoting enmity between groups on the grounds of religion), 153B (imputations prejudicial to national integration), 354A (sexual harassment), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 509 (words, sounds or gestures intending to insult the modesty of women), to be read with Sections 66 (sending grossly insensitive information through a computer resource) and 67 (sending lascivious or lewd matter) of the Information Technology (IT) Act.
Several media and lawyers’ bodies have condemned those who had created the ‘app’, but also slammed the Delhi police for not taking action against those who were behind a similar app, ‘Sulli Deals’, that was circulated in June last year.
Note: This is a developing story. More details will be added as they become available.