On Monday (September 6), Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi fired off a letter to the Union Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology alleging inaction against the contentious ‘Sulli Deals’ app. It must be mentioned that the app made headlines in July after it had put pictures of Muslim women for an online auction.
While addressing IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, Chaturvedi claimed that the Ministry did not take any action against the perpetrators. “It is disheartening to see that no written reply or action has been taken as of now despite the sensitivity of the issue. I request you to kindly look into this matter as these incidents yet again lay bare the protection and safety of women, especially in cyber-space. I look forward to stringent action in this regard,” the Shiv Sena MP alleged.
It must be mentioned that Priyanka Chaturvedi had earlier written to Minister for Electronics and Information Technology on July 30 raising concerns about the ‘Sulli Deals’ app and women’s safety in cyberspace. In a tweet, she claimed that her recent letter was a ‘reminder’ to the Vaishnaw to take action against the creators of the contentious app.
No action taken against Sulli Deals? Here is what the government said
While Priyanka Chaturvedi claimed that no action had been taken against Sulli Deals app, the truth could be far from it. A day after the app came to light, the Delhi police registered a First Information Report (FIR) against the unidentified creators for using images of Muslim women without their consent and putting them up for auction.
Sources involved in the investigation of the case said, “Action in the matter was taken two months ago in July even before the MP wrote a letter in August. The government had already taken action against this website and both the app as well as the YouTube channel had been blocked”.
The source further said, “Delhi Police special cell filed an FIR on July 7 against unknown persons terminating the YouTube channel, and another FIR was filed on July 9 before the MP wrote the letter to IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw”.
It is also pertinent to note that the IT rules enacted by the government already has a provision to deal with such apps. In the press release issued by the government on the 25th of February, the IT rules made provisions to deal with apps and information that compromise the dignity of women.
The rule says that intermediaries shall remove access to the information or app within 24 hours of the receipt of complaint of contents that exposes private areas of individuals, show such individuals in full or partial nudity or in sexual act etc. The rule also provided to take down information that contained morphed images of women.
While it was believed initially that the app was made by Hindus lusting over Muslim women, an account with the username ‘sullidealsXpose’ had alleged that the creator of the app is a Muslim man by the name of Javed Alam. The ‘expose’ account claimed that he studied at the GLA University in Mathura and was working with Accenture. It also claimed to have found three of his phone numbers. After the allegations came to light, Shalabh Mani Tripathi, adviser to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, took cognisance of the matter and said that the matter is being further investigated to nab whoever was responsible for the app.