NEW DELHI — The alleged masterminds behind the derogatory “Sulli Deals” and “Bulli Bai” apps were granted bail by a local court in the national capital on Monday, an official said.
Deputy Commissioner of Police K.P.S. Malhotra told IANS that the main grounds for granting the bail to the accused persons — Sulli Deal app creator Aumkareshwar Thakur and Niraj Bishnoi for Bulli Bai app — was that the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) results and replies from Intermediaries were still awaited.
“The trial court had relied upon the evidence against the accused persons and no shortcoming in the investigation was pointed out,” Malhotra said.
He said that the court has granted bail on humanitarian grounds and considered that the alleged persons were first-time offenders and continued incarceration would be detrimental to the alleged overall wellbeing.
“Accused is a first time offender and a young person as such prolonged incarceration would be detrimental to his overall well being. Accused has roots in the community and he is not a flight risk,” said the bail order of Thakur, a 25 year old a resident of Madhya Pradesh’s Indore, who was apprehended by the Delhi Police on January 8.
The bails given to the duo have evoked reaction from people prompting comparisons with Muslim activists who are in jail under UAPA over protests with their pleas for bail getting rejected repeatedly.
“Would the court say the same for Sharjeel (Imam) and several other Muslim youth who are incarcerated only because of their identity,” said activist Asif Mujtaba. “It’s around 800 days since Sharjeel is in prison for the crime he never committed. Is the well being of Muslim youths not a concern?” he asked.
Some people also pointed to incarceration of three Kashmir youth since November last year after they cheered for Pakistan cricket team.
The relief granted to the duo accused in harassing Muslim women also triggered angry reactions from the victims.
Amina Kausar, an activist based in US who was one of targets of the accused wrote: “The man who put me and many other Muslim women on auction on #BulliBai is FREE now.
“@MumbaiPolice. @DelhiPolice You took my recorded statements to set him free?
The derogatory app had surfaced in July 2021, where photos of Muslim women were maliciously displayed for “auction”.”
The Delhi Police’s Cyber Crime Unit had registered an FIR under section 354-A (Sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment) of the Indian Penal Code on July 8.
Meanwhile, “Bulli Bai” came to light in January 2022 after a Delhi-based woman journalist lodged a police complaint stating that she was being targeted by some unidentified group of people on a mobile application. The app was hosted on Github.
“Bulli Bai” too had a number of pictures of women, including journalists, social workers, students and famous personalities, accompanied by derogatory content. The app listed hundreds of Muslim women for “auction”.
Its creator, Niraj Bishnoi, was arrested by the Delhi Police on January 6.
During his interrogation, it emerged that he used to interact with various virtual identities on social media and used to engage in group discussions.
In July 2021, in one of the groups in which Bishnoi was a member, another group member shared the details of the “Sulli Deals”. That was the first time Bishnoi or other group members had heard about the app.
Based on disclosures made by Bishnoi and on the basis of technical analysis, Thakur was identified and traced in Indore. Later on January 8, a team of IFSO, Delhi Police Special Cell went to Indore and arrested the accused.
Thakur was examined and his technical gadgets were subjected to preliminary analysis.
During the investigation, he was subjected to interrogation, in which he confessed that he had created the Sulli Deal app on GitHub.
With IANS Inputs