NEW DELHI — More than two years after Rana Ayyub, author of the Gujarat Files and a vocal critic of the Narendra Modi government, lodged a complaint about her face being morphed on a body of another woman in a pornographic video and the abuse that followed on social media, the Delhi Police has decided to stop looking for culprits.
In a letter dated 8 July, 2020, the Delhi Police told Ayyub said that “despite efforts the culprits could not be identified yet.”
Of the 18 Twitter handles that Ayyub mentioned in the complaint she lodged at the Saket Police Station in April 2018, HuffPost India found that 14 are still active, 12 offensive messages are still online, and 11 have shown activity in 2020.
In May 2018, five UN Special Rapporteurs wrote to the Modi government, asking the government to protect Ayyub and bring about an end to the vicious culture of online trolling targeting journalists critical of the authorities in India.
“We have previously urged the authorities in India to take active steps to reverse a political climate that, in recent years, has become increasingly polarised and hostile, especially to the media and those exercising the freedom of expression,” they said.
In July, this year, Ayyub posted on her Twitter timeline a death threat she received on the social media platform, and said that she was inundated with rape and death threats after posting a message about an elderly Kashmiri man who the Jammu and Kashmir Police say was killed in the crossfire between Indian security forces and militants.
Cyberstalking and bullying of Indian women journalists and politicians is common in India.
A study published by Amnesty India in January 2020 found that Twitter was a toxic place for Indian women politicians, who face substantially higher abuse than their counterparts in the United States and the United Kingdom, in the form of threats sexist, religious, racist and casteist slurs, and Muslim women politicians faced 55% more abuse.