Javed Akhtar questions silence of PM, his own over ‘Bulli Bai’ row

Mumbai: Veteran screenwriter Javed Akhtar on Monday said “appalled” with everyone’s silence, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his own, over the harassment of Muslim women, whose doctored pictures were put online for auction in a latest incident of hate crime against Muslims.

Hundreds of Muslim women, including prominent personalities, were listed for “auction” on an app called ‘Bulli Bai’ with photographs sourced without permission and doctored. It has happened for the second time in less than a year. The app appeared to be a clone of Sulli Deals which triggered a similar row last year.

Akhtar took to Twitter and said he was stunned by the prevailing “silence” over these issues.

“There is an online auction of hundred women There are so called Dharm Sansads, advising the army the police and the people to go for the genocide of almost 200 MLN Indians. I am appalled with every one s silence including my own and particularly of The PM. Is this Sub ka saath?” the 76-year-old tweeted.

Akhtar also commented on a Dharma Sansad held in Haridwar last month sparked public outrage over hate speeches allegedly delivered by some participants against Muslims. A second FIR was lodged against 10 persons in connection with the event on Monday.

Akhtar’s son, actor-filmmaker Farhan Akhtar also tweeted against the “sickening” act of putting women for ‘auction’, which first emerged on Saturday.

“This is sickening! Request authorities to take swift and strict action against the people behind this grotesque act,” Farhan tweeted on Sunday.

Several other Bollywood personalities, including actors Swara Bhasker, Richa Chadha, Shruti Seth and screenwriter Varun Grover also commented on the issue and called it “disgusting”.

Grover said the targeting of Muslims in the country is systemic and deliberate.

“Islamophobia is not the right word for what we are seeing today. Phobias, though irrational, still have an element of doubt, external triggers, potential cures.

“The genocide calls, auctions are deliberate, doubtless hatred aided by news TV propaganda and support from the system,” the screenwriter tweeted.

On Monday, the Delhi Police sought details from the GitHub platform about the developer of the controversial ‘Bulli Bai’ app and wrote to Twitter for information about the account handler who first posted about it.

After demands for action against those behind the app, IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw had said on Sunday that the government is working with police in Delhi and Mumbai, where cases have been registered in the matter.

He also said that GitHub has blocked the user who had uploaded the app and that the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), the country’s nodal agency on cyber security, and police are coordinating further action in the matter.

A senior Delhi Police officer said on Monday, “As part of the probe into the matter, we have written to Twitter seeking information about the account handle who had first tweeted about the ‘Bulli Bai’ app.”

“This is to know how the person concerned came across the alleged application which had offensive contents being written about women of a particular community.”

The development comes after the Delhi Police on Saturday night registered an FIR against unknown persons for allegedly uploading a doctored picture of a woman journalist on a website. The journalist had lodged an online complaint and shared a copy on Twitter.

A case was registered at the Cyber Police station of the southeast district on Saturday night, the police had said. No arrest has been made in the case so far and a probe is underway, they said.

In July last year, a case was registered by the Cyber Cell of the Delhi Police after it received a similar complaint about an unidentified group uploading photos of Muslim women on the ‘Sulli Deals’ mobile application.

Police officials said an investigation is on in that matter too, but refused to elaborate.