Spoke to cops, Sulli Deals probe to finish soon: NCW chair

The National Commission for Women has been in touch with the Delhi Police over the two apps that put up morphed pictures of Muslim women, said its chairperson Rekha Sharma on Sunday, adding that the the probe into the earlier app would be completed soon by the cops.

On Saturday, the Delhi Police arrested Aumkareshwar Thakur, 25, a BCA (Bachelor of Computer Application) graduate, from Indore in connection with the “Sulli Deals” app case, which came into the spotlight in July last year.

Investigations had since been pending and there had been no arrests till this one.

“What we were told by the Delhi Police is that the investigation into ‘Sulli Deals’ was a lengthy process since it was developed outside and the police were awaiting sanction from the Home Ministry. They recently informed me that they have received sanction from the Home Ministry and that the investigation will now be wrapped up speedily,” Sharma told The Indian Express.

“We have been monitoring both the Bulli Bai and the Sulli Deal cases and have been in constant touch with the Delhi Police cyber cell, asking them to expedite the matter. We have also called the Delhi Police for a hearing which is to take place next week,” she said.

Thakur’s arrest comes days after four people, including two engineering students and a Delhi University student, were arrested for the similar “Bulli Bai” app that posted doctored photos of at least 100 Muslim women, along with lewd remarks and comments, on December 31.

Both the apps were hosted on US-based GitHub.

Sharma said the NCW has asked for action taken reports from the Delhi Police in both cases.

Sharma was tagged by a victim of the Bulli Bai case on January 1 on Twitter. On January 2, the NCW tweeted that it had taken cognizance of the incident and that its chairperson had written to CP Delhi “to immediately register an FIR in the matter”. “The process must be expedited so that such crimes are not repeated,” said the NCW tweet.

“These incidents are very unfortunate. It is not a matter of Hindu or Muslim women. Communities of both religions need to come together and protect their women. These apps are not about hurting each other’s communities, but hurting women. The police should also not drag its feet in such cases,” Sharma said.

Sharma said the Commission has been collaborating with social media platforms — it has held several meetings with Twitter, Facebook and Google — to address the issue of such apps. “When we notify the social media platforms they do promptly respond by taking down posts. However, we have been asking for details of these accounts etc, which they have so far not provided us – those details we then acquire from the police,” she said adding that the NCW only becomes aware of such cases once they are flagged by a complainant. “We are trying to figure out, with the platforms, how we can institute a system by which such online content can be prevented — so the measures we take aren’t just reactionary but preventative,” she added.

The National Commission for Minorities has also taken cognizance of the Bulli Bai case. Unlike the NCW, it has not issued a formal statement on the matter.

“We have taken cognizance of the issue after having received a complaint from Amritsar Lok Sabha MP Gurjeet Singh Aujla. I have asked for a report from the government and have intimated all states to ensure that such crimes against minority communities are not repeated.

We have also told the states that when such matters come to light, immediate legal action needs to be taken against the accused,’’said Chairperson Sardar Iqbal Singh Lalpura.

Aujla, who is also member standing committee on energy and member consultative committee on agriculture, had written to Home Minister Amit Shah on January 1st asking him to take immediate action against the creators of the app.

NCM member Shehzadi Syed said she has received several complaints on the matter from Hyderabad as well. “This is not about Muslim women or Hindu women. The women of this country need to be respected. We will be discussing this issue at the next Commission meeting. What was the intention behind such heinous activities? Let the law takes its course. If we don’t see results, then the Commission will intervene,” she said.

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