A UP government employee arrested by the CBI on Tuesday for allegedly sexually abusing around 50 children in a 10-year period has been suspended. The accused - a junior staffer in the irrigation department - was suspended for "alleged involvement in immoral acts and misconduct".
Earlier on Tuesday the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested Rambhawan, who was posted to Uttar Pradesh's Karvi as a junior civil engineer in 2009, on charges of child sexual abuse and sharing, or selling, photographs and videos of such material to pedophiles around the world via the darknet.
Officials of the central investigative agency said the abused children, who are between five and 16 years old, came from three districts across the state - Banda, Chitrakoot and Hamirpur.
The accused, who was arrested from Banda, is in one-day judicial custody. An order on police custody is expected on Wednesday. Sources said the CBI had sought police custody as they believe he was not acting alone.
Raids on the accused's residence unearthed eight mobile phones, Rs 8 lakh in cash, sex toys, a laptop and other digital evidence, including a large volume of child sexual abuse material (CSAM).
Scrutiny of e-mails found on the laptop indicated he was in touch with several others (both Indian and foreign nationals) for the purpose of sharing CSAM.
During interrogation the accused told investigators he bribed the children with mobile phones and other electronic gadgets to ensure they stayed silent about his activities.
In January, data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) showed that over 100 children are sexually abused in India every single day; this is a 22 per cent jump from the previous year, NCRB data showed.
Overall, crimes against children has increased more than six times between 2008 and 2018 - from 22,500 recorded cases to 1,41,764 two years ago. According to the report, UP recorded the second-highest number of child rapes (2,023).
The darknet - which the accused used to sell or share child sexual abuse materials - refers to a hidden network within the internet that can only be accessed with specific software configurations and is used to exchange pornographic content or engage in other illegal activities.
In August the government flagged "misuse" of the darknet at an online conference of BRICS nations (Brazil, India, Russia, China and South Africa) and called for real-time information sharing among member states to help crack down on illegal activities routed through this space.
With input from PTI