The action was taken after a screen recording of conversations on two chatrooms went viral on Twitter.
The recording showed 18 to 20 participants discussing the “pink private parts of Muslim women”, and “Oedipus complex” involving a “Muslim mother”, among other lewd remarks.
The names of the groups were “Muslim gals are more beautiful than Hindu gals”, which was created on 17 January, and “girls don’t have the privilege to marry upper caste boys”, which was created that evening.
A user named Bismillah, whose real name is Rahul Kapoor, was reportedly behind the first chatroom. Kapoor revealed that he had created the group as per the instructions of another person with the username Sallos, according to the Hindustan Times. The teenager claimed that he handed over the position of the group moderator to Sallos after creating it.
While Delhi police sources said that they have already identified the person behind the second username, details are yet to be made public.
On 18 January, Delhi Commission for Women chairperson Swati Maliwal issued a notice to the Delhi Police demanding action against the participants of both groups. The Delhi police lodged police cases against unknown persons under various sections of the Indian Penal Code following this.
These chatrooms come close on the heels of two cases where pictures of Muslim women were put up for online auction.
On 1 January, hundreds of Muslim women across India — including journalists, artists, lawyers, students and those critical on social media of the country’s current political climate — found images of themselves being used on the “Bulli Bai” app, which claimed they were up for “sale”.
A website and app similar to “Bulli Bai”, called “Sulli Deals”, emerged early last year and also hosted photos of prominent Indian Muslim women for “sale”. While “Bulli Bai” was up for a day before being taken down, “Sulli Deals” had remained accessible for weeks.
Several women lodged complaints following social media outrage. Commentators across religious and political divides have condemned the apps, which they said constitute acts of harassment against Muslim women in India.