On 3 May, a series of screenshots were posted by an Instagram user, carrying snippets of conversations between 30-odd minor participants on an Instagram group called ‘bois locker room’. The participants involved are accused of exchanging photographs of other female Instagram users, some of whom are underage girls, and passing lewd comments on the group.
On 4 May, the Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal issued a notice to both the Delhi Police and Instagram. The notice mentions that the Commission has taken suo motu cognisance of the matter, terming the actions of the accused as being illegal and asking for their arrest. It sought details about the admins and members of the group chat: their usernames/handles, names, email IDs, IP addresses, location etc.
“They talk trash about women, bodyshame them, morph their pictures, and the list is endless,” wrote one of the first women to come forward with details of the Instagram group.
Soon after the screenshots were made public, at least two other women stepped forward to share more screenshots of similar conversations held between the participants, mostly minor boys, who have since either deleted their accounts or changed their names as well as usernames on the social media platform.
Apart from the content shared on ‘bois locker room’, once outed, specific members of the group allegedly attempted to make a separate Instagram account to leak more private images of the accusers. The conversation was accessed by one of the main accusers and confirmed by another on her Instagram account.
After the screenshots caught the attention of social media users across platforms, a separate Instagram group comprising the participants accused of sexual harassment as well as certain new participants, believed to be their friends, came to light. According to the posts shared by one of the accusers, the new group was formed to think of ways to defend the participants of ‘bois locker room’.
Offensive language was used against those who were outing them. “And she’s dead”, “gon fuck her up no cap”, “I’m gonna f*ck every single one jisne story daali (who posted a story)” were among the messages allegedly exchanged on this chat.
A new account to replace the old group chat was allegedly created after the participants were outed on social media. The bio of this account mentioned that participants should join in with fake accounts, “so no one can expose u”. A Twitter user mentioned that this development took place hours after information about the original group chat was put on social media; Firstpost was not able to independently verify this. This account does not seem to be on Instagram anymore.
As #boyslockerroom became one of the top trends on Indian Twitter, an accuser alleged that her Instagram account was hacked into and the password was changed by members of the ‘bois locker room’ group. Firstpost could not independently verify this.
One of the accused, who a Twitter user termed as being the creator of the group, apparently posted an apology on his Instagram stories; screenshots of this apology have been circulating on Twitter but Firstpost was not able to confirm their veracity. “I just want to point out that I realise the gravity of my mistake and that I am in no position to defend myself in any way. I take full responsibility for my actions… I would just like to publicly apologise to every single person, esp all the women out there that I have angered. I fully understand and accept my mistake, and I am ashamed of my actions,” he allegedly wrote.
The user also begged others to not take further action, “as it would be detrimental to us”. He further added that some of the accused were “silent participants of the group and didn’t engage in the actions/conversations that are being condemned”, asking that they be left out of the issue.