The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, Dr Fernand de Varennes, Wednesday condemned the surfacing of a hate app on which doctored photographs of hundreds of Muslim women were uploaded for “auction” and said such incidents need to be prosecuted as soon as they occur.
In a tweet Tuesday evening, Varennes said, “Minority Muslim women in India are harassed and ‘sold’ in social media apps, #SulliDeals, a form of hate speech, must be condemned and prosecuted as soon as they occur. All Human Rights of minorities need to be fully and equally protected.”
This comes after last week the Delhi Police arrested 26-year-old Aumkareshwar Thakur from Indore in Madhya Pradesh. Thakur is believed to be the creator of the hate app which surfaced in July last year in which hundreds of Muslim women, including journalists and activists, were put up for “auction”. This was the first arrest made in the case.
Thakur’s arrest came soon after the arrest of 21-year-old second year engineering student Neeraj Bishnoi from Jorhat in Assam. Bishnoi is the creator of a similar app which surfaced on January 1 on GitHub, the same online platform used to make the previous app, and like the former, was used for “auctioning” Muslim women with doctored photographs.
The National Commission for Women had taken cognizance of the hate app on January 1 after being tagged on Twitter by a victim. NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma had earlier told The Indian Express that she had also been in continuous touch with the Delhi Police Cyber Cell, monitoring the progress of the investigations into both these apps.
“These incidents are very unfortunate. It is not a matter of Hindu or Muslim women. Communities of both religions need to come together and protect their women. These apps are not about hurting each other’s communities but hurting women. The police should also not drag its feet in such cases,” Sharma had said.
Meanwhile, on being asked about these apps at The Indian Express e-Adda programme held Monday evening, Union Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani said she had been in touch with the IT and Telecom departments on the issue of security of women on the internet.
“Women, irrespective of their religion, have been denied their dignity on social media platforms. I am grateful that the police are investigating this issue. I am absolutely confident that those who are guilty will be punished. My desire is also this…I had the privilege of engaging with the Supreme Court Justices…to ensure that we expedite cases. The law provides for an expeditious pronouncement. But there has been laxity given the burden on the courts of our country,” she said.
Irani added, “But I am hopeful that between the police system and the judiciary, more and more cases where women receive justice are brought to light. I want to use this platform to say that this is an issue on which, irrespective of our politics, we need to come together.”
In the wake of the 2012 Delhi gang rape and murder incident, there had been conversations, she said, around the impact of pornography on the minds of the youth. “It’s time to revisit that conversation,” Irani said.