Sixty-seven-year-old activist Khalida Parveen said that she insisted that the police include charges of “trafficking” in the FIR against the perpetrators. The FIR, however, is yet to be registered.

Khalida Parveen speaking to a media personKhalida Parveen
news Harassment Monday, January 03, 2022 - 18:16

Hyderabad-based veteran social activist Khalida Parveen has filed a police complaint after her name, along with her photo and Twitter handle, were put up on the now-deleted ‘Bulli Bai’ app. The app had specifically targeted several Muslim women and “auctioned” them as “Bulli Bai” (a derogatory term used to describe Muslim women) on the platform, GitHub. Incidentally, this comes days after the 67-year-old activist campaigned on Twitter for the arrest of hatemonger Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati, the chief priest of Dasna Devi temple in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad. In December 2020, Narsinghanand held a religious conclave in Haridwar, which called for genocide and violence against Muslims

Hundreds of outspoken Muslim women, including journalists and activists, have been targeted in the latest attack, which comes months after a similar online harassment campaign under “Sulli Deals.” The targeted harassment against women of a minority community has rightly created an outrage, demanding action against the perpetrators behind this sexual harassment. The incident came to light on January 1.

Activist Khalida Parveen filed a complaint with the Hyderabad Central Crimes Station on Monday, January 3. In her complaint, she pointed out that her photo was used without consent. “I would like to draw your attention to the absolutely crass, vile, derogatory and misogynistic language directed at me by using the expression ‘bulli bai.’ The expression is pejorative, and is directed at harassing me, horribly sexualising me, a senior citizen, and casting aspersions on me, and my character, and the community to which I belong.”

Khalida also asked the police to book GitHub for facilitating a platform to commit the crime, for the second time. In July 2020, Muslim women’s photos were “auctioned” on ‘Sulli Deals’ on the Microsoft-owned GitHub platform. Khalida asked the hosting platform to cooperate with the investigation agencies by providing details of the perpetrators. She demanded strong action against the perpetrators not limited to the Indian Penal Code and the Information Technology Act.  

Speaking to TNM, the veteran activist, who also fought against the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), said that she insisted the police include charges of “trafficking” in the First Information Report (FIR) against the perpetrators. The FIR is yet to be registered in the case. 

Strategy to silence women

According to Khalida, her Twitter campaign demanding the arrest of hate monger Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati probably led to her being listed on the GitHub platform.

“As far as I know, this campaign is only to divert attention from the Haridwar hate speech controversy. The Twitter campaign led to FIRs in several places and it got international attention. In a bid to stop that, they must have thought if we target Muslim women, everyone shifts their attention to this,” said Khalida.

“They must have also targeted Muslim women because of the resilience they have been showing against the current government. In the Shaheen Bagh protest, Muslim women campaigned on the road for months, demanding to repeal the National Register of Citizens and Citizenship Amendment Act, showed the hate brigade that Muslim women are not meek, who would not remain within their confines of a house and easily surrender without any protest. They did not expect that Muslim women are more courageous and strong-willed than men,” she added.

As mainstream media is overlooking atrocities against Muslims, Twitter has become the platform that forces the media to acknowledge it, said the activist. “So, these perpetrators have targeted women who are actively using Twitter to raise their voice against the Minority witch-hunting in India.”

Khalida observed that the harassment was targeted primarily against young Muslim women. “Young women who are vocal have been registering their protest online; their parents and family do not know their political activities. And now when they are targeted by ‘auctioning,’ their parents, husbands etc, out of humiliation and afraid of being targets, will prevent them from expressing their opinions. This is the consequence of the targeted harassment,” she pointed out.

Along with Khalida, another independent journalist from Hyderabad, Ayesha Minhaz, was featured on Bulli Bai. “All it took to snap me out of a Twitter break was learning that someone auctioned my photo,” she said.

“The unfortunate reality of being a Muslim woman in India is that I have prepared myself for far worse. No amount of caution will spare us till we overthrow fascists. This country keeps inflicting an endless cycle of trauma and violence. More power to all the fellow Muslim women having to deal with it,” Ayesha wrote on Twitter. 

Hyderabad Member of Parliament Asaduddin Owaisi, who responded on the issue, demanded the Telangana Chief Minister to immediately arrest the perpetrators. “A symbolic FIR is not enough, they should be arrested,” Owaisi tweeted on Sunday, tagging the Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and the Director-General of Police Mahender Reddy. The Hyderabad MP asked the government to avail the services of anti-radicalisation department in the case.

Following wide outrage, both the Mumbai police and the Delhi police have filed a case in this regard. 

 
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