In a nationwide coordinated crackdown on crime related to online child sexual abuse material, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today conducted searches in 77 cities and towns across the country and registered 23 separate cases against 83 persons.
The CBI found that various syndicates of individuals based in different parts of India and foreign countries were indulging in circulating, storing, and viewing Child Sexual Exploitation Material (CSEM) through various social media platforms and groups.
The offenders were disseminating CSEM by way of sharing links, videos, pictures, texts, posts, and hosting of such content on social media groups and platforms and third-party storage and hosting platforms.
As per initial information collected, the CBI estimates there are more than 50 groups comprising more than 5000 offenders sharing child sexual abuse material in the country.
Many of the groups had the involvement of foreign nationals. The CBI estimated that there could be involvement of nationals of around 100 countries spread across various continents.
CBI is coordinating with sister agencies through formal and informal channels. Searches and development of further leads is underway. Investigations are still on.
Following reports of the crime, the CBI had constituted a Special Unit “Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention/ Investigation (OCSAE)” for matters pertaining to online child sexual abuse and exploitation.
As Interpol’s India component, CBI is uniquely placed to coordinate such matters having national and international ramifications.
Globally, the importance of recognizing and combating online child sexual abuse has been acknowledged. Every year, a lot of children face abuse which becomes more horrific when online platforms are used.
It is a challenge for all stakeholders including law enforcement agencies, CBI said. Cooperation amongst law enforcement agencies is paramount for tackling this menace.
Apart from coordination with various agencies, the unit is undertaking an investigation of various offences relating to online child sexual abuse and exploitation.
The searches were conducted today at homes of the offenders at Delhi, Jaipur, Tirupati, Kanekal (Andhra Pradesh); Varanasi, Patna, Chandauli, Ghazipur, Siddharthanagar, Moradabad, Noida, Jhansi, Ghaziabad, Muzaffarnagar (Uttar Pradesh); Junagarh, Bhavnagar, Jamnagar (Gujarat); Sangrur, Patiala, and Gwalior.
The other towns were Malerkotla, Hoshiarpur, Siwan (Bihar); Yamuna Nagar, Panipat, Sirsa, Hisar (Haryana); Bhadrak, Jajapur, Dhenkanal (Odisha);, Coimbatore, Ajmer, Jhunjhunu, Nagaur (Rajasthan); Jalgaon, Korba (Chhattisgarh) and Solan (Himachal Pradesh).
A number of electronic gadgets, mobiles, laptops, etc. have so far been recovered during searches. Some individuals were involved in trading CSEM material.