As many as 579 instances of child pornography or child sexual exploitation content posted online have been sent to three police jurisdictions in Pune in form ‘Tipline Report’ as a part of coordinated efforts, code-named ‘Operation Blackface’, of the cyber crime wing of Maharashtra Police.
The reports have been generated from an arrangement between the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) of India and the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), based in the US.
While Pune City police has received 542 Tipline Reports, their counterparts in Pimpri Chinchwad and Pune Rural jurisdictions have received 25 and 12 reports, respectively.
So far, Pune City Police have registered four FIRs and have arrested two persons. Pimpri Chinchwad police have registered 12 cases out of the 25 reports received, and arrested three persons, while Pune Rural police are yet to register any case.
Police officials said that after content related to child pornography is brought to the notice of the NCMEC, either by informers through helplines or by Internet service providers, the input is verified by the agency and the possible location of the suspect is traced. A Tipline Report is then generated and is made available to the concerned law enforcement agencies, which in India’s case is the NCRB.
After receiving it, the NCRB sends information to state police authorities from where it is further directed to individual police jurisdictions.
Till 2019 end, around 25,000 Tipline Reports have been received on child pornography or child sexual exploitation content posted online from India. Of these around 1,680 reports, which took place in 2019, have been sent to Maharashtra Police earlier this year, which have been further sent to individual police jurisdictions by the Maharashtra Cyber — the cyber crime wing of state police.
In response to the 1,680 reports sent to various jurisdictions in the state, a total of 61 FIRs have been registered while 17 persons have arrested.
Dr Balsing Rajput, Superintendent of Police, Maharashtra Cyber, said, “After receiving 1,680 Tipline Reports from the NCRB for Maharashtra, a concerted effort code-named ‘Operation Blackface’ was launched by the Maharashtra Cyber. As part of the pro-active initiative, a Standard Operating Procedure was chalked out for registering and probing these cases. A workshop was conducted for policemen from across the state, who will be conducting the investigation.”
Rajput added, “We want to make an appeal to the citizens that any activity related to child pornography, including viewing, sharing, publishing, downloading and storing, is an offence. Citizens must report any instance of child pornography or child sexual exploitation content to police. We want to highlight that at the core of child pornography is child abuse and all our efforts are concentrated towards protection of children on the cyber space. Citizens must understand that activities on cyberspace are always monitored and they should refrain from any action related to child porn.”
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