The cyber cell of the Mumbai police which is probing the â€˜Bulli Bai' app case has arrested a 18year-old woman from Uttarakhand, along with a 21-year-old engineering student from Bengaluru, officials said on Tuesday, January 4.
Vishal Kumar Jha, the student, and co-accused Shweta Singh who is from Uttarakhand, allegedly knew each other. According to police, more arrests in the case are likely. While a court in Mumbai remanded Jha in police custody till January 10, a court in Uttarakhand granted city police four-day transit remand of Shweta Singh so that she could be brought to Mumbai. She will be produced before the Mumbai court on Wednesday, said a senior police official.
The Mumbai police had registered a First Information Report (FIR) against unidentified persons following complaints that doctored photographs of hundreds of Muslim women were uploaded for â€˜auction' on an app called â€˜Bulli Bai', hosted on the open-source software platform GitHub. The purpose of the app seemed to be to humiliate and intimidate the targeted women, who include journalists, activists, and other active social media users.
A team of the Mumbai cyber police arrested Shweta Singh in Uttarakhand, an official said, adding that she was operating multiple accounts related to the app.
Engineering student Vishal Jha was detained in Bengaluru in connection with the case on Monday and later brought to Mumbai. The Mumbai cyber police station has also registered a case against the app's unidentified developers and Twitter handles which promoted it.
Mumbai police produced Vishal Kumar Jha before the Bandra metropolitan magistrate's court on Tuesday, and sought his custody for ten days. The court remanded him in police's custody till January 10. It also granted the police permission to carry out searches at his house in Bengaluru.
While seeking his custody, the police told the court that after the suspect detained in Uttarakhand (Shweta Singh, later arrested) was brought to Mumbai and her custody was obtained, the two accused would be questioned together.
"My client Vishal Jha has been falsely implicated in the case. He had no role in the creation of this app or any fake accounts. He is just a student," his lawyer Dinesh Prajapati told PTI.
Prajapati also denied that Jha knew Shweta. The Bulli Bai app (now blocked by GitHub) is the second case of this kind of sexual harassment and cyber-bullying targeting Muslim women in recent times. A similar app and website called â€˜Sulli Deals' had come to light last year.
Amid outrage, the Delhi Police has sought details from the GitHub platform about the developers of the 'Bulli Bai' mobile application and also asked Twitter to block and remove related "offensive contents". The police also sought from Twitter information about the account handler who first tweeted about the app.
Leaders from across the political spectrum condemned this cyber harassment and called for strict action against the culprits.
Read: Hyderabad cops register FIR in â€˜Bulli Baiâ€™ case, say trafficking charges donâ€™t apply
Terming the matter as "serious", the Delhi Minorities Commission has issued a notice to Delhi police chief Rakesh Asthana seeking an action-taken report by January 10.
On Tuesday, Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil and Minister of State for Home Satej Patil said strict action will be taken against the culprits.
Satel Patil praised the "prompt action" by the Mumbai police, and said there seemed to be a "much bigger network" behind such coordinated crimes and the city police will unearth the "entire nexus that is enabling hate crimes against women in our country."
Read: â€˜Bulli Baiâ€™: Cops believe Bengaluru student didnâ€™t operate alone, says Maharashtra Minister