The two Kashmiri women journalists include Masarat Zahra and Quratulain Rehbar. Earlier, Rehbar’s photograph was put on auction on ‘Bulli Bai’ app.

SRINAGAR — Two prominent Kashmiri women journalists are among the 20 most abused women journalists targeted through Tek Fog app, a browser-based application reportedly used by the India’s ruling BJP to infiltrate social media platforms in order to spread misinformation, target female reporters and home in on anyone it deems an opponent.

A report published last week by New-Delhi based The Wire, an independent Indian news publication, documented the mechanics and strategy behind the computer program, which is known as Tek Fog, according to a whistleblower claiming to be a disgruntled employee of the ruling party’s information technology cell. It’s unclear when the system came into being, but The Wire has been investigating the claims made by the unidentified source for two years.

The list of the 20 most abused women journalists targeted through the Tek Fog app, and independently verified The Wire, include Ismat Ara, Hiba Bég, Neha Dixit, Fatima Khan, Jyoti Yadav, Sakshi Joshi, Shereen Bhan and Madhu Trehan. It also included Quratulain Rehbar and Masrat Zahra, two independent journalists from Kashmir.

The whistleblower, according to the report, themselves had outed the use of sexualised trolling against women whom they alleged the BJP IT Cell had decided to target, such as the former Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader from Kashmir, Shehla Rashid.

In a tweet they put out in April 2020, they recalled how operatives had been “ordered to use obnoxious methods to troll Shehla Rashid. Doctored porn pics of @Shehla_Rashid were sent through WhatsApp groups to counter her on Twitter and Fb. Which forced her to deactivate [her] Twitter handle.” “Now I apologise @Shehla_Rashid. I’ve learnt much from those mistakes,” they said.

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“So many things happening back to back that it doesn’t surprise me that I’m here too. Thank you @thewire_in for such an amazing work! [SIC],” Qurat wrote on her twitter.

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Earlier, her name had also surfaced in the ‘Bulli Bai’ controversy. Her photograph was sourced without her permission and uploaded on the app for “sale”.

Photographs of more than 100 Muslim women, including a prominent actress, wife of a sitting judge of Delhi High Court, multiple journalists, activists and politicians were displayed on the app for auction as “Bulli Bai” of the day.

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