GitHub case: Ensure stringent action

The radicalisation of young people on social media is deeply concerning and the police must look into whether the heinous webpage was run as part of a larger conspiracy 
Unless the larger network fuelling such hate and bigotry is busted and brought to justice, the anonymity and radicalisation offered by the internet and social media will continue to incubate these acts. (HT Archive) PREMIUM
Unless the larger network fuelling such hate and bigotry is busted and brought to justice, the anonymity and radicalisation offered by the internet and social media will continue to incubate these acts. (HT Archive)
Updated on Jan 05, 2022 09:06 PM IST
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ByHT Editorial

Scores of Muslim women woke up on New Year’s Day in horror, finding that their photographs had been stolen for a webpage, hosted on code-sharing platform, GitHub, with the intent of “auctioning” them. That little police action was taken after the first such attempt – a similar webpage, also hosted on GitHub, had stolen and doctored photos of Muslim women in July – added to their predicament.

Since then, Mumbai Police have arrested three people in connection with the crime: A 21-year-old male engineering student from Bengaluru, an 18-year-old unemployed female high school graduate from Uttarakhand, and a 21-year-old male student, also from Uttarakhand. Police have also said that the Bengaluru man, Vishal Kumar Jha, and the Uttarakhand woman, Shweta Singh, may have met on social media while sharing Right-wing content, but how they managed to put together the webpage, or whose help they had, isn’t clear yet.

This needs to be probed further. The radicalisation of young people on social media is deeply concerning and the police must look into whether the heinous webpage was run as part of a larger conspiracy and if the young people had help from other, more organised groups spreading hate. The Maharashtra information technology minister, Satej Patil, hinted at this on Tuesday when he said that there appeared to be a bigger nexus behind the webpage, and the Mumbai Police should actively bust any such rings that enable these cybercrimes.

This was a hate crime, aimed at demeaning Muslim women activists, professionals and public figures, denigrating their dignity, and harassing them online. Unless the larger network fuelling such hate and bigotry is busted and brought to justice, the anonymity and radicalisation offered by the internet and social media will continue to incubate these acts. Stringent and timely action is the only apt responses.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2022