IT-savy youths arrested in Kerala for online child pornography

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Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 28 (PTI) In continuing crackdown on child pornography, as many as 41 people, including youths working in good professional jobs and most of them IT savvy, have been arrested in Kerala for allegedly sharing sexually explicit pictures and videos of children in 6-15 age group, police said on Monday.

Some of the youth were suspected to be involved in trafficking of children, police said, adding the arrests were made during raids conducted at 596 locations across the state on Sunday by the Counter Child Sexual Exploitation (CCSE) Unit, a police release said.

This is the third round of the operation against child pornography code named 'P-Hunt_20.3' this year after two similar raids in June and October in the state when a total of 88 people, several of them youngsters well versed in information technology, had been arrested.

Many groups operating on Telegram and WhatsApp with more than 400 odd members each were identified and listed out during the latest action, it said, adding the COVID-19 lockdown has led to increase in digital usage which in turn has resulted in cyber crimes such as child pornography.

'The raids were highly successful and as a part of the operation, the teams could seize 392 devices in 339 cases registered- which include mobile phones, tabs, modems, hard disks, memory cards, laptops, computers with graphic and illegal videos and pictures of children,' Additional Director General of police, Manoj Abraham, said in the release.

Abraham, who is also the Nodal Officer of Cyberdome, said many of the videos and pictures appeared to be of local children, ranging in age group of 6-15.

'Based on the recovery of the devices..., 41 arrests were made and this includes youth working in good professional jobs and most of them are IT savvy, which is the reason why they were using all kinds of encrypted handles to upload and download the material,' he said.

Police said through P-hunt, which was launched three years ago, more than 525 cases have been registered and over 428 accused arrested so far.

Under relevant law, viewing, distributing or storing of any child pornographic content is a criminal offense which can attract imprisonment up to five years and a fine up to Rs 10 lakh. PTI RRT VS VS