New Delhi: In a shocking incident, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has arrested a junior engineer in the irrigation department in Uttar Pradesh from Banda district. A resident of Chitrakoot, the junior engineer, Ram Bhawan Singh, is accused of sexually abusing 50 children (between five and 16 years of age) for a period of over 10 years. The arrest was made by CBI’s special unit called Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention/ Investigation (OCSAE) that deals with matters pertaining to online child sexual abuse and exploitation.
“Investigation is still underway and as of now, no major development has been reported,” CBI spokesperson R.K. Gaur told The Sunday Guardian. The accused was arrested on 17 November. According to reports, the investigating officers are suspecting that Singh may not have been working alone. The CBI has also added “others” to the FIR. An anonymous whistle-blower tipped off the CBI and gave the officials a pen drive with over 30 videos, 600 pictures, and phone numbers and email IDs used to post videos on the dark web.
“The accused were involved in the sexual abuse of children in the districts of Banda, Chitrakoot and the surrounding areas in Uttar Pradesh. Apart from the physical abuse of these children, the accused also allegedly recorded their acts using their mobile phones, laptops and other electronic devices. It was further alleged that these photographs and video films containing child sexual abuse material were published/transmitted by the accused using the facility of internet. It was also alleged that the accused used dark web for sale, transmission and sharing of such CSAM content with other individuals,” the CBI said in a statement.
The Central Bureau of Investigation conducted raids at Ram Bhawan’s residence and recovered cash of Rs eight lakh, mobile phones, laptops, web-camera and other electronic storage devices, including pen drives / memory cards and several sex toys.
“The accused allegedly used these electronic items and gadgets to lure children falling in the age group of 5-16 years. Scrutiny of the emails of the accused has revealed that he was allegedly in constant touch with several individuals (both Indian and foreign nationals) for the purpose of sharing child sexual abuse material. The accused has allegedly created and shared huge quantity of child sexual abusive material, over the years, through the internet using various social media platforms and websites over darknet etc,” the CBI said in a statement.
According to reports, a eight-member Central Bureau of Investigation team had been camping in the district since 2 November and they were repeatedly questioning the junior engineer and his driver. Ankit Mittal, Superintendent of Police, Chitrakoot, told The Sunday Guardian: “The CBI was investigating the matter and they tracked him. We were not aware of the matter.”
Singh is charged under the Information Technology Act, Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Act and Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code and is currently in Banda jail. On 19 November, additional district and sessions judge Rizwan Ahmad fixed 24 November for the hearing and ordered that the accused remain in judicial custody till 30 November.
The deferral came following objections raised by defence counsel Anurag Singh Chandel. Meanwhile, the CBI’s lawyer Ashok Kumar Singh sought time to file a rejoinder. After the arrest, the Irrigation Department of Uttar Pradesh suspended the junior engineer with immediate effect for immorality.