New Delhi, February 28
The CBI has identified 10 more victims of alleged child sexual abuse by now-suspended Uttar Pradesh Irrigation department junior engineer Ram Bhuwan, the alleged paedophile also accused of selling the illicit acts with kids on the dark web, officials said.
Further expanding its exhaustive probe, the central probe agency recorded the statement of these 10 male victims to buttress its charges against Bhuwan who was arrested along with his wife and a suspected accomplice, they said.
The person arrested from the national capital, whose identity is being kept secret by the CBI, is understood to be an important link in unravelling the mystery of the 50-year old junior engineer using the dark web to sell child sexual abuse material and making money from it, they said.
The agency team has so far identified around 35 victims and is in the process of identifying others, they said.
The CBI is also working on deciphering digital evidence from recoveries made during searches at the premises of Bhuwan and his suspected accomplice, they said.
The agency had recently filed its charge sheet before a special court in Banda in which the CBI had presented statements of about 25 victims, all males between the age of 4-22 years, and the reports of digital evidence collected during searches at the residence of Bhuwan.
The JE was arrested on November 16, 2020, while his wife was taken into custody on December 28, 2020.
They were arrested by a newly established special CBI unit, which is handling online child sexual abuse, after it started tracking and apprehending paedophiles operating on the internet and busted his alleged activities after trailing him for days, they said.
The accused, a resident of Chitrakoot district in Uttar Pradesh, was arrested from Banda by the Special Unit of the CBI specialising in ‘Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention/Investigation (OCSAE).
Both are in judicial custody.
The agency has charged Bhuwan and his wife under IPC sections related to criminal conspiracy (120-B) and homosexuality (377) along with provisions of The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and Information Technology Act.
The Supreme Court had struck down Section 377 of the IPC but legal advice received by the CBI suggested that since the crime period spans before the law was quashed, the provisions can be invoked.
The 50-year-old Ram Bhuwan stands accused of allegedly abusing around 50 children in the age group of 4-16 years in three adjoining districts of Uttar Pradesh—Hamirpur, Banda, Chitrakoot—for over a decade and selling those recorded sexually explicit acts on the dark web.
“The accused allegedly used electronic items and gadgets to lure children falling in the age group of 5-16 years. The scrutiny of the emails of the accused had 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,” CBI Spokesperson RC Joshi said.
He said the accused had allegedly created and shared a huge quantity of child sexually abusive material, over the years, through the internet using various social media platforms and websites over the darknet etc. —PTI