MUMBAI: Three young Indians accused of setting up a fake auction app advertising the sale of prominent Muslim women have been arrested, police said yesterday. Photos of more than 100 women — among them a number of prominent local journalists and activists known for speaking on issues affecting Indian Muslims—were featured on the “Bulli Bai” app alongside derogatory messages.

Police said an 18-year-old woman and two men in their early twenties had been detained in connection with the app. “Pictures of some ladies belonging to a particular community were uploaded and ... objectionable messages were also put,” Hemant Nagrale, Mumbai’s police commissioner, told reporters. Nagrale said further details about the case would not be released by police at this stage.

Members of India’s Muslim minority have spoken out in recent years about what they feel are growing attempts to target or marginalize their communities. Another fake auction platform targeting Muslim women briefly appeared six months ago, prompting a police investigation that failed to yield any suspects. Women whose images featured on the latest app have voiced their dismay on social media.

“This is how we are greeted and treated in India on the first day of the new year, while other people in my country have fun, joke and party,” poet Nabiya Khan tweeted on the weekend. “Nobody deserves to be attacked, humiliated, bought and sold.” GitHub, an open software development platform which had hosted the app, told local media it would assist with the police investigation. – AFP