Bulli Bai app case: 3rd accused arrested from Uttarakhand

Hundreds of Muslim women, including vocal activists or top professionals, were listed for “auction” along with their photographs sourced without permission
Mumbai Cyber Police arrested the third accused, Mayank Agarwal, 21. (AP/File)
Mumbai Cyber Police arrested the third accused, Mayank Agarwal, 21. (AP/File)
Updated on Jan 05, 2022 11:44 AM IST
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ByVijay Kumar Yadav, Kalyan Das

The Mumbai Police late on Tuesday arrested a third accused from Uttarakhand in connection with the web pages that put hundreds of Muslim women on “auction” and provoked outrage, people aware of the matter said on Wednesday.

Shweta Singh, 18, a resident of Uttarakhand’s Udham Singh Nagar district, and engineering student Vishal Kumar Jha, 21, were earlier arrested on Tuesday. Investigators said the two met on social media due to their common interest in Hindutva ideology and allegedly put up the web pages.

The third accused has been identified as Mayank Rawat, 21. A three-member Mumbai Cyber Police team arrested him from Kotdwar in Pauri Garhwal district. Rawat’s father is in the army and posted in Jammu, a police officer in Pauri Garhwal said on condition of anonymity. He added Rawat was pursuing his BSc in chemistry (honours) from Delhi University’s Zakir Hussain College. “He was home in Kotdwar because of offline classes.”

Senior police superintendent (Pauri Garhwal) Yashwant Singh said the Mumbai Police traced Rawat by tracking his mobile which he allegedly used to share the links of the webpages. “Before arresting him, they asked us for assistance as per interstate protocol which we provided. The Mumbai Police team would present him (Rawat) before a court today (Wednesday) for a transit remand before taking him to Mumbai for further probe,” he said.

Mumbai Police are probing two web pages hosted on the code-sharing platform, GitHub. The first web page was floated in July 2021 and the second, Bulli Bai, surfaced on January 1.

The web pages were named after derogatory references to the Muslim community. Hundreds of Muslim women, including vocal activists and top professionals, were listed for “auction” along with their photographs sourced without permission and doctored. Activists have pointed out that despite complaints, no action was taken in the July case. They added the pages were meant to demean Muslim women.

Also Read | Act against developers of Bulli Bai app, Maharashtra minister tells police

Jha was arrested first in Bengaluru for allegedly running one of the Twitter handles used to upload links to the websites. Singh, the second accused to be arrested, was deeply involved in Hindutva ideology and often posted such content on social media, said a police officer with knowledge of the matter.

Rawat also allegedly promoted Bulli Bai on Twitter. He stopped it after the content provoked outrage. The two arrested accused from Uttarakhand were expected to be flown to Mumbai together by Wednesday night, said a police officer. Singh was produced before a local court in Udham Singh Nagar, which granted her transit remand on Tuesday.

A Mumbai court has remanded Jha in police custody even as his lawyer insisted his client was “falsely implicated”.

Investigators said the three like-minded accused appeared to have come in contact online.

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Sunday, May 22, 2022