Bhopal: A Delhi Police team arrested a freelance web developer identified as Aumkareshwar Thakur (25) at Newyork City Township in Indore on Saturday for allegedly creating the Sulli Deals app, which had listed hundreds of Muslim women, including some journalists, for ‘auction’ by sourcing their morphed pictures in June last year. Thakur’s father and brother have alleged that he is being framed.
Acting on a tip-off by Niraj Bishnoi, the alleged ‘creator’ of a similar app called Bulli Bai, who was arrested in Assam last week, the Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Operations unit of the Delhi Police Special Cell nabbed Thakur from his home and seized his laptop and mobile phone. Bishnoi had reportedly revealed that he was in touch with the creator of the Twitter handle @sullideals, which was used to create the Sulli Deals app on GitHub.
According to a newspaper report quoting Delhi police sources, Aumkareshwar has confessed to the police that he created the Sulli Deals app on GitHub in July 2021 and he was a member of the Right wing Trad-Group on Twitter and the idea was shared to defame and troll Muslim women.
Thakur is the latest person to be arrested in an ongoing investigation of apps developed for auctioning Muslim women, especially journalists, online. Before Bishnoi’s arrest, the Mumbai police had arrested prime accused Shweta Singh (18), Mayank Rawal (21) and Vishal Kumar Jha (21) in the Bulli Bai case.
According to Thakur’s brother Mangaleshwar (23), two Delhi cops in plain clothes arrived at their house on Saturday afternoon. “The cops asked him questions related to the creation of Sulli Deals and subsequently took him to Delhi along with his laptop and mobile phone. He is being framed,” Mangaleshwar told Newsclick over the phone from Indore.
Defending his brother, Mangaleshwar said: “He is a BCA from IPS Academy of Indore and was earning well by doing freelance projects for IT companies for the last four years. He was not active on social media for one year. He is the favourite kid of the family.”
Mangaleshwar, who is a bachelor in computer application like his brother, works for a multinational company. The brothers, along with their parents, have been staying at Newyork City for the past decade.
“He clearly explained that he has no connection with both the apps. Since Aumkareshwar was good with coding and web development, many budding developers took his help. He might have possibly helped someone in coding, but he has nothing to do with the app,” Mangaleshwar, who was present with their mother in the house when the cops arrived, added.
When asked about Thakur’s confession to the police, Mangaleshwar said, “I don’t know what he had said. But I disagree with the police’s version.”
Meanwhile, Indore police commissioner Harinarayanchari Mishra told Newsclick that Thakur was arrested without informing the local police. “The local police station was not informed but we are checking with our Crime Branch if they were provided information,” he said over the phone.
Thakur’s father Akhilesh Thakur, who works for a private firm, told Newsclick that he “got a call from my son around 7 pm that cops were taking him to Delhi for interrogation”. “The following morning, I got a call from Delhi and spoke to my son, who told me that he was safe,” he said over the phone.
Defending his son, Akhilesh told the media on Sunday morning that “you can ask anyone here, he had no friends and never stepped out. He has nothing to do with the case and is being framed. I’m going to Delhi to meet my son.”
In July, the Delhi Police registered a case in Sulli Deals but didn’t take action despite repeated demands by the victims and Opposition party MPs, including Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha member Priyanka Chaturvedi. Thakur was arrested only after the Bulli Bai episode exploded and Singh, Rawal, Jha and Bishnoi were arrested.
Taking a dig at the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of Madhya Pradesh, state Congress spokesperson Narendra Saluja said, “Niraj Bishnoi, who was arrested by the Delhi Police for ‘auctioning’ Muslim women online, was enrolled at a private college in Bhopal. And now, Aumkareshwar, who has confessed to be the mastermind of Sulli Deals App. Moreover, Dhurv Saxena, a BJP IT Cell worker, was arrested in 2016 for passing information to Pakistan’s ISI. Is the government sheltering criminals?”
Former chief minister and Rajya Sabha member Digvijaya Singh called for nabbing the “big fish” who are “poisoning the minds” of “these youngsters”.
“These youngsters are foot soldiers of the bigger Sharks who used these youngsters by poisoning their minds and maybe by paying them some money. Catch the Big Fish. ‘S**** Deals app creator and mastermind’ arrested from Indore, pic released,” Singh tweeted on Sunday.