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Major Child Sexual Abuse Racket Busted: Kerala Police Raid 410 Places, Arrest 10 Pedophiles

NEW DELHI: In a major crackdown against child sexual exploitation, Kerala Police CCSE (Countering Child Sexual Exploitation) Team raided 410 locations and arrested 10 pedophiles on Sunday. The 11th Special drive was named P-Hunt 22.1 under which 186 devices were seized and 22 cases registered.

According to the police, the material was subsequently compiled and distributed to 280 teams led by District Police Chiefs, which included members of cyber cells, technological specialists, and women.

On Sunday, January 16, from early morning to late afternoon, simultaneous raids were performed throughout the state under the operational direction of the District SPs.

Manoj Abraham, Additional Director General of Police and Nodal Officer, Cyberdome.

“The raids were quite effective, and as part of the operation, the teams were able to recover 186 devices in 22 cases registered, including mobile phones, modems, hard discs, memory cards, laptops, computers, and so on, all of which included graphic and unlawful recordings and photographs of children. The upsetting aspect of the situation is that many of the videos/pictures appear to be of local children ranging in age from 5 to 16 years,” said Manoj Abraham, Additional Director General of Police and Nodal Officer, Cyberdome.

Abraham said based on the recovery of the devices with the Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) material, ten arrests were made, including youth working in good professional occupations, the majority of whom are IT aware, which is why they were using several encrypted handles to upload and download the material.

“The details of rest of the people involved in circulating these images and videos are being further collected. Strong action will be taken against all the individuals involved in this racket, continuing our policy of zero tolerance in these matters,” Abraham said.

The CCSE cell’s hyperactive work, as well as the arrests and registration of cases, has had a significant deterrent effect. Abraham explained that in many cases, these crimes are tied to mental addictions that require treatment, and in the absence of such treatment, there are tendencies of repeat offences or the accused returning to the crime, better prepared, with better means of anonymity, and so on. So, every two months, we notice the trend increasing and a spike in such situations involving youngsters.

A familiar trend is found in porn groups operating over WhatsApp and Telegram and number of such groups have increased drastically during this period. “Due to the police action thru P hunt drives, the accused now watch the video and delete it using specialized software to evade detection. They also have started formatting their phone every three days. Use of malwares to activate the webcams of the victim and to steal information of children has also been reported in certain cases. In a few cases we have seen online live sex sessions involving children that are available on payment over restricted links,” Abraham said.

Under existing law, viewing, distributing, or keeping any child pornographic content is a criminal violation punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to Rs ten lakh. “Kerala Police seeks community support for this project, and if any member of the public comes across any such channels or groups that spread child sex-related content, we urge you to please notify Hi Tech Crime Enquiry Cell, Cyberdome, or Cyber cells as soon as possible, considering “Child security as the responsibility of every member of society,” Abraham said.

Understanding the gravity of the problem in relation to increasing online crimes against children, the Kerala Police CCSE (Countering Child Sexual Exploitation) Team, operating under Cyberdome, has been conducting a sustained digital analysis of the virtual trends and these problems for the past four years, particularly during this Pandemic period, and after identifying the perpetrators, a special operation dubbed P-hunt was launched, which has been highly successful and over the last four years.

The technical assistance for the collection of information was led by Shyam Kumar A, Operations Officer, Cyberdome and he was assisted by Renjith RU, Anoop GS, Vaisakh SS, Arunraj R and Akshay Santhosh all members of the CCSE Cyberdome Squad. The India Child Protection Fund (ICPF) also provided the technical expertise and resources, required to detect these online crimes and worked with the Team with a common objective of protecting children from abuse.

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Shashank Shekhar
Shashank Shekhar
Editor, The420.in. I am a communication enthusiast with a voracious appetite to learn, in a journalistic career spanning almost 14 years, I have worked for several leading publications and online platforms.

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