By Kulsum Mustafa
New Year for over 100 progressive Muslim Indian women started with a shocking revelation – they were available for sale to the world on an online auction. At least, that is what Bulli Bai App, hosted on the open-source software platform GitHub, made it appear. A clone of Sulli Deals’ site which had appeared six months back on the same lines, this new version was created on December 31st night by what the initial police investigations have revealed, allegedly by four ‘mastermind students’, who had just very recently turned major. The main suspect, the creator of the app Niraj Bishnoi, 21, is from Jorhat, Assam, and was arrested yesterday. Three others, all students had been nabbed earlier.
The site displayed doctored photographs of well-known Muslim women- hailing from varied professions. The ‘deal of the day’ list included journalists, pilots, actors, researchers, political, social activists, etc. The age group ranged from the early twenties to the seventies.
As the news spread, these women – all active social media users and all achievers in their respective fields started reacting. Vulgar, and unforgivable, and unthinkable act it was taken primarily as an assault on their sexuality.
But here let us see the flip side of this deal. True, the weapon of sexuality was deployed and the aim was to humiliate and intimidate but by ‘relaxing’ the age limit it was also clear that the attack aimed at enlightened and vocal women. It was an attack on those women from the minority community who had dared to break the ceiling, to show mettle and not remain in the shell of ignorance. These are all seasoned, intelligent females who have through hard work and grit created benchmarks. And that is exactly what the perpetrators of this crime wanted to attack- the progress, and their awakened souls. Seems these women have all the reason to feel proud as they all stand tall. They have a voice and they contribute positively to society. They were auctioned because they showed sparkle, refused to fall in line, they all lead from the front with vision and foresight coupled with caliber. These ‘valuable change-makers all hail from a community that criminal minds wanted to be suppressed and so they attacked stooping low. The attack was on mindset, their progress, and vision.
Kudos to Ismat Ara, a budding journalist who came forward and registered an FIR on the basis of which the Police got into action. This resulted in the arrests of Mayank Rawal (21), Shweta Singh (19) from Uttarakhand, and Vishal Kumar Jha (21) from Bengaluru- the alleged culprits. This is not just sad but a matter of grave concern. Not only are they all students, but the girl is also in her teens. Now their future is jeopardized. Is it not possible to believe that these youngsters could plan out such criminal acts alone. It is more likely that radicalization was made possible allegedly by elements that have been openly calling for the genocide of Muslims and issuing statements at public religious gatherings to use weapons against the minorities in India. Seems that they have succeeded in their mission- that of polluting the minds of young and vulnerable Indians.
When incidents like these happen it is not just the secular values enshrined in the Indian Constitution that are shattered but the very core of our civilization is damaged severely. In the last few years, the majority of community youth have been psyched and made to believe that their religion, their identity, and their very existence is in danger. They are told publically, at religious gatherings, which are duly publicized on television and social media that they have to rise and that attack is the best form of defense.
But it seems that there is still hope and all is not lost. There are Indians like Dhruv Rathee, who use the social space to support secular India and openly condemn such acts. Here is a quote from his Twitter account.
“The police in BJP governed states have become so useless that they have no problem with genocidal slogans, hate speech, selling women online, literally attacks universities, religious buildings even. Absolute joke of law and order.”