Indian police arrest another suspect in Muslim women “auction” case

Jan 6, 2022: Indian police on Thursday said they had arrested a 20-year-old man suspected of creating an online app that shared pictures of Muslim women for a virtual “auction”.

The scope of the investigation into the case of sectarian harassment is widening according to police. An open source app on the GitHub platform called ‘Billi Bai’ – an insulting term used to describe Muslim women – shared photos of dozens of women without their consent before it was removed.

KP Malhotra, a police official in the capital New Delhi, said his team had arrested a 20-year-old engineering student from Jorhat in the eastern state of Assam after an investigation involving the state run computer emergency response team.

Police in the western city of Mumbai, which is also investigating the app, arrested three people this week, including two 21-year-old engineering students and an 18-year-old woman. Mumbai police said they were investigating whether the app, which did not include the actual auction of people, was part of a “big conspiracy”. The app targeted several Indian Muslim journalists, including Ismat Ara, who lodged a police complaint on Sunday and then shared it on social media, saying the app was “designed to insult Muslim women”.

The youngest arrested so far is from the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand. The 18-year-old began spending time on social media and contacted Hindu right-wing users after dropping out of school exams last year, a local police official who spoke to him earlier this week told Reuters. told. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he had been told that his actions were based on the Hindu right-wing ideology, which he had raised on social media platforms, including Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter.

About 14% of India’s 1.3 billion population is Muslim. Some sections of the community have clashed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration and Hindu right-wing supporters, including over the controversial 2019 citizenship law that sparked widespread protests.

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