Kerala Police’s operation to bust child pornography in the state has made a significant breakthrough. With a crackdown of a racket of 41 people, the state police arrested those involved in sharing and posting of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) in an operation code-named ‘P-Hunt’. The arrested include information technology (IT) professionals who were held for circulating vulgar videos of minors on social media platforms.
The 27 December raids marked the third phase of Operation P-Hunt, a dedicated exercise meant to purge child pornography, and as many as 465 places were subjected to searches. ADGP Manoj Abraham, nodal officer of the Cyberdome, said 339 cases were registered and 392 devices were seized during the raids.
Of the arrested, many were IT experts and some of them are suspected to be involved in child trafficking as encrypted chats suggesting this were recovered during the raids.
One of the frightening aspects unearthed during the raids was that the abuse materials of local children were widely being uploaded and shared through darknet sites and social media platforms. Such content of children ranging from six to 15 years were recovered during the raids.
Kerala police have registered 268 cases under this signature operation against those involved in sharing these pictures and videos through WhatsApp and Telegram messenger services. The investigation team after gathering input made a simultaneous raid in 326 locations across the state. In the operation, 285 electronic devices including phones, modem, hard disks, laptops, memory card were seized.
The accused were using sophisticated technology to transfer CSAM data. The sleuths suspect that some of the accused are also involved in child trafficking. This came evident after they found chats from these seized gadgets.
Kerala Police arrested the maximum number of suspected offenders in Kannur: six.
Manoj Abraham said the cops arrested these suspects after identifying them using special software and with the help of a ‘tipline’ that the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children had provided. The centre shared the information collected with the district police chiefs, who formed seperate teams comprising IT experts and women personnel.
In the district, Malappuram had the highest number of cases, where most offenders were arrested in Palakkad. Under the aegis of Countering Child Sexual Exploitation (CCSE) team, along with the local police, IG (Crime) S Sreejith led the raids.
The probe team said more people were under the scanner. From the digital evidence, more people who are involved in the racket will be taken into custody. The probe team is closely monitoring various Telegram and Whatsapp groups. CCSE probe team official stated the team has detected several groups engaged in circulating CSAM. During the operation, many such groups including, Chakka, Bog Melon, Uppum Mulakum, Gold Garden, IncestLovers, Poothumbikal have been shut.