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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday arrested a junior engineer of Uttar Pradesh irrigation department for allegedly sexually exploiting about 50 minor children for the last 10 years and selling videos and photographs of nefarious acts on the dark net to other paedophiles across the globe, officials said.

Rambhawan, the accused, is alleged to have preyed upon the children in the 5 to 16 years age group in the districts of Chitrakoot, Banda and Hamirpur in the last 10 years mainly contacting and sharing child sexual abuse material (CSAM) with other paedophiles globally using dark net and cloud services abroad, they said.

A resident of Chitrakoot district, Rambhawan was arrested from Banda and is likely to be produced before the competent court soon.

During searches, the CBI seized eight mobile phones, around Rs 8 lakh in cash, sex toys, laptop, and other digital evidence carrying huge quantity of CSAM, officials said.

Along with Rambhawan, an unknown number of other people are suspected to have been involved in the racket.

“It was alleged that the accused were involved in 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 Darkweb for sale, transmission and sharing of such CSAM content with other individuals,” said RK Gaur, CBI Spokesperson.

“The accused allegedly used these electronic items and gadgets to lure children falling in the age group of 5-16 years. The 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”, Gaur said.

Gaur also said that the accused allegedly created and shared a huge quantity of child sexual abusive material, over the years, through the internet using various social media platforms and websites over dark net, etc.

An officer who did not want to be named said that the accused has disclosed during interrogation that he used to bribe the children with mobile phones and other electronic gadgets to buy their silence.

The CBI has a Special Unit “Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention/ Investigation (OCSAE)” for matters pertaining to online child sexual abuse and exploitation. Apart from receiving various references/information, the unit also investigates various offences relating to online child sexual abuse and exploitation.