NEW DELHI, India (Asia Free Press) : The ongoing online harassment of Muslim women including prominent journalists by extremists Hindus have put the lives of minorities’ women at risk in India.
The recent online harassment campaign on “bulli.github.io” (now deleted), a website that posted Muslim womens’ pictures in an improper way and called them “Bulli bai” a derogatory term used by extremist Hindus mostly from ruling BJP party and its extremist wing RSS.
The website has been deleted after strong criticism across the country and from abroad when a prominent Indian Muslim woman journalist Ismat Ara’s picture was posted.
“It is very sad that as a Muslim woman you have to start your new year with this sense of fear & disgust. Of course it goes without saying that I am not the only one being targeted in this new version of #sullideals. Screenshot sent by a friend this morning,” Ismat Ara tweeted.
Ara also lodged a complaint with Delhi police and requested to file an immediate First Information Report (FIR) against the culprits.
In her written complaint which she also posted on her Twitter handle, Ara requested the Delhi police Cyber Crime Unit to immediately start its investigation and lodge FIR against the unknown people who are seeking to harass and insult Muslim women on social media and the internet.
“I was shocked to find out this morning that a website /portal called “Bullibai.github.io” (now deleted) had doctored picture of me in an improper, unacceptable and clearly lewd context.”
“I am often the target of online trolls and this seems to be the next step in such harassment.”
Responding to Ara’s, tweet, the Delhi police said they have been taken notice of the matter and concerned officials have been directed to take appropriate action.
However, the Muslim women have criticised the Indian police who have remained silent and didn’t take strict action against the culprits.
“I filed an FIR in May 2021, the last time when this incident took place. No action has been taken by you @DelhiPolice Stop giving us these fake assurances,” Hasiba Amin, National Convenor of Indian National Congress said while responding to Delhi police’s twitter post.
“There are many Muslim names,including mine,in the obnoxious #BulliDeals , same as #SulliDeals
Even Najeeb’s mother has not been spared. It’s a reflection on India’s broken justice system, a dilapidated law n order arrangement. Are we becoming the most unsafe country for women?,” Sayema, a prominent Indian artist said.
Religious faultlines have existed in India for a long time but, critics say, anti-Muslim violence has risen since 2014 under the Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, according to BBC.
In February 2021, Human Rights Watch in its report accused the Indian government for adopted laws and policies to systematically discriminate against Muslims and stigmatise critics of the government.
“Prejudices embedded in the government of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have infiltrated independent institutions, such as the police and the courts, empowering nationalist groups to threaten, harass, and attack religious minorities with impunity,” said the global rights group in its report.
In Febuary 2020, at least 53 people including 40 Muslims were killed by extremist Hindus in communal violence in New Delhi after BJP leaders incited violence in the capital city.
“The BJP’s embrace of the Hindu majority at the expense of minorities has seeped into government institutions, undermining equal protection of the law without discrimination,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The government has not only failed to protect Muslims and other minorities from attacks but is providing political patronage and cover for bigotry.”
The global rights body called the Justice System in India as “biased” and said that In many states, the criminal justice system increasingly reflects the discriminatory views of the BJP, targeting religious and other minorities and critics of the government, and shielding its supporters.
Since Modi’s BJP came to power in 2014, it has taken various legislative and other actions that have legitimised discrimination against religious minorities and enabled violent Hindu nationalism,
Human Rights Watch said.
The extremist Hindus groups mostly affiliated with BJP, have also killed at least 50 people mostly Muslims under “cow protection” since 2015, according to the report.
The anti-Muslim laws and hatred spread by the ruling party leaders against minorities have also increased Islamophobia in India.
For several weeks following the outbreak of Covid-19 in March 2020, the BJP government singled out a mass religious congregation in Delhi, organized by the international Islamic missionary movement Tablighi Jamaat, to explain a spike in cases. This led to a surge in Islamophobia with some BJP leaders calling the meeting a “Talibani crime” and “Corona Terrorism,” and pro-government television channels and social media accusing those who attended the gathering and Indian Muslims in general of not just being responsible for the outbreak but deliberately spreading it, according to HRW.
Fake videos contending that Muslims were deliberately spreading the virus went viral on social media and WhatsApp, leading to weeks of abuses against Muslims, boycotts of their businesses and of individuals, and numerous physical attacks on Muslims, including volunteers distributing relief supplies, it added.