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Online child sex abuse racket: CBI arrests 7 day after raids

Following its raids on Tuesday, the agency had detained 10 people. Three of these, sources said, have been let off after questioning.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: November 18, 2021 6:46:32 am
CBIThe FIR was registered after CBI conducted a preliminary inquiry that revealed smuggling links between the accused (File)

THE CENTRAL Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested seven people on Wednesday, a day after it carried out raids across the nation in a crackdown on online child sex abuse.

The seven were arrested from Delhi, Noida, Dhenkanal in Odisha, Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh and Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh.

“During investigation, it was revealed that the accused were allegedly sharing links of CSEM (child sexual exploitation material) videos on certain websites…. It was revealed that some individuals were involved in trading of CSEM material,” the CBI said in a statement.

Following the raids at 77 locations across 14 states on Tuesday, the agency had detained 10 people. Three of them, sources said, were let off after questioning.

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The arrested accused were identified as Raman Gautam, Purushottam Jha and Sathyender Mittal from Delhi; Nishant Jain from Noida; Surendra Kumar Naik from Dhenkanal; Jitendra Kumar from Jhansi; and T Mohan Krishna from Tirupati.

According to the CBI, Tuesday’s raids were conducted in connection with an online child sex abuse racket, which involves 5,000 offenders from around 100 nations spread across Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe.

“One disturbing trend that has been noticed by the CBI during this operation is that several people have made trading/selling of the CSEM material and are sharing links in various groups/platforms,” a CBI official said. “These people have their wallets/bank accounts linked to such platforms and are being paid on the basis of the views collected by the material shared by them, thus encouraging them to share in more such groups leading to large scale dissemination.”

“Money trail is being followed to work out the backward and forward linkages of the offenders,” the official said.

Sources said the CBI is also planning to take up the matter with social media websites and hosting platforms. “The CBI plans to coordinate with International Child Sexual Exploitation Database to trace the origin of the child sexual abuse images. Keeping in view the involvement of a large number of foreign nationals, the CBI also plans to coordinate with various foreign law enforcement agencies to take further action,” the official said.

On November 14, the CBI registered 23 separate FIRs following allegations that various syndicates of individuals based in different parts of India and abroad were indulging in circulating, storing and viewing CSEM through various social media platforms and groups.

Following Tuesday’s raids, the CBI said a number of electronic gadgets, cellphones and laptops were recovered. “It is revealed that some individuals were involved in trading of CSEM,” the CBI said in a statement.

“As per initial information collected, there are more than 50 groups having more than 5,000 offenders sharing child sexual abuse material. Many of these groups also have involvement of foreign nationals. It is initially learnt that there may be involvement of nationals of around 100 countries spread across various continents. The CBI is coordinating with sister agencies through formal and informal channels. Searches and development of further leads is underway,” the agency said in the statement.

The states where raids were conducted were Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Bihar, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh.

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