18-year-old UP resident quizzed over hate chat on Clubhouse

The suspect was identified as Rahul Kapoor, who joined the group using the ID “Bismillah” (in the name of God). Police said Kapoor, who joined the investigation in Delhi on Saturday afternoon, revealed the identity of the other five participants.
Delhi Police on January 18 registered an FIR (first information report) against unknown persons in the case related to an offensive chat on Clubhouse, an audio based social media network. A portion of the conversation, which was shared across social media platforms, showed the participants making offensive and derogatory comments about Muslim women.
Delhi Police on January 18 registered an FIR (first information report) against unknown persons in the case related to an offensive chat on Clubhouse, an audio based social media network. A portion of the conversation, which was shared across social media platforms, showed the participants making offensive and derogatory comments about Muslim women.
Updated on Jan 23, 2022 02:00 AM IST
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By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Delhi Police have identified an 18-year-old man from Lucknow for allegedly creating the audio chat room on Clubhouse where participants were last week heard making offensive and derogatory comments against Muslim women, leading to a public outcry, officers aware of the matter on Saturday said.

The suspect was identified as Rahul Kapoor, who joined the group using the ID “Bismillah” (in the name of God). Police said Kapoor, who joined the investigation in Delhi on Saturday afternoon, revealed the identity of the other five participants after which they too joined the investigation. The statements were recorded. Police have also seized their cell phones and other documents connected to the case.

“We sent a team to Lucknow after identifying Kapoor as one of the participants. He is a first-year student. He created an ID by the name of Bismillah. He then created the chat room on the instructions of a person called Sallos. He handed the moderator keys to Sallos,” said KPS Malhotra, chief of the Intelligence Fusion Strategic Operation (IFSO) unit, which is Delhi’s Police’s cyber cell.

Police said that Kapoor’s father works as an accountant at Lucknow’s Army Public School.

Delhi Police on January 18 registered an FIR (first information report) against unknown persons in the case related to an offensive chat on Clubhouse, an audio based social media network. A portion of the conversation, which was shared across social media platforms, showed the participants making offensive and derogatory comments about Muslim women.

Though HT could not independently verify the authenticity of the two-minute-twenty-second clip, the screen showed there were 70 to 80 participants in the chat room at the time, including users going by the names Sallos, Bismillah, Kira, Aanchal, Roma, Harsh, Jerry, Kavya, Mank and K.

DCP Malhotra said the five other participants too have joined investigation. “Sallos is a class 12 student. He is 17 years old. He had initially created an account in Clubhouse by the name of Alcoholic Singh and later changed it to Sallos. Anchal Anand, a resident of Kerala is another participant. She had participated in a chat with another user Roma. But in the said chat Anchal had passed general remarks. Her phone and notepad have been seized. Roma Makkar is a resident of Nizamuddin. She is a yoga coach. She has admitted that the voice in the video is hers but said that she was there before the offensive comments were made.”

Police identified participant Kira (mentioned above) as Naumaan Jabber, a resident of Jodhpur. Police said Naumaan had shared the details of his account with Akash Suyal(arrested by Mumbai police). “There is also a first year B Com student Harsh Pal of Dehradun. We have seized his phone and laptop too. He claimed that he was there in the chatroom for 10 minutes but did not take part in the chat. Rahul has already told us that the person behind user name Sallos is a 17-year-old, whom he knew virtually. Sallos spoke filthy in the chat and then left the group that day. His phone has also been seized.”

On Friday, Mumbai Police’s cyber cell arrested three people from Haryana over the same case. Police said the three also participated in the controversial conversation. Mumbai Police registered an FIR in the case on January 19. The Mumbai police and Delhi Police are conducting separate probes.

Of the three arrested by Mumbai Police, B.Com student Jaishnav Kakkar, 21 and law student Yash Parashar, 22, are from Faridabad, and Akash Suyal, 19, is a Class 12 student from Karnal.

Explaining why Delhi police are yet to arrest any of the six suspects, DCP Malhotra said, “The controversy erupted over a video of the chat discussion on Clubhouse. Before proceeding, we want to ascertain the authenticity of the video recording. We want to build a water-tight case. We have to rule on any voice modulation in the video so that the case does not get affected during trial. The only evidence in the case so far is the first source who recorded a video of the audio conversation. That is the only evidence of the vulgar remarks. Club house also does not record the audio conversation.”

This is third such case in the last eight months where offensive photographs or messages have been posted to target Muslim women on social media. The first was the “Sulli Deals” app (named after an offensive and derogatory term to describe Muslim women), on GitHub in July. The second one was the Bulli Bai app that also surfaced earlier on GitHub earlier this month. Both the apps featured doctored photographs of Muslim women and attempted to “auction” the women.

Police in Delhi and Mumbai have so far arrested five people for creating the two apps. Police have maintained that two alleged app developers, Neeraj Bishnoi, a B.Tech student, and Aumkareshwar Thakur, a freelance web developer, were “self-radicalised”.

In the latest case, the audio clips where participants made offensive comments towards Muslim women were shared on Monday (January 17). The clips were widely circulated, leading to a public outcry. While Delhi Police filed its case suo motu (on its own), the case in Mumbai was filed on the complaint of a woman who.

Clubhouse, developed in the US, is an audio-only social media platform where participants can communicate with each other by creating specific groups. The firm told HT that it immediately suspended the accounts after they came to know about the chat room.

The officials of Clubhouse, in their interactions with the media, have said that there are at least 2 million active users of the audio chat app in India.

“Clubhouse is a place for people around the world to spend time with friends, meet others, engage in discussion and learn. There is absolutely no place for hate or abuse on the platform. We invest significantly in keeping our community safe and take swift action at any violation of our policies. There are hundreds of thousands of rooms created daily, the vast majority without incident. If and when a violation of our Community Guidelines is reported and confirmed, swift action is taken i.e. suspended or permanently removed from the platform, depending on the severity of the incident. In this instance, the room was reported and those involved in organizing were quickly actioned. As always, we can’t predict what humans will say but we can respond quickly once they violate our guidelines,” said a Clubhouse spokesperson, who refused to be identified.

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Saturday, May 21, 2022