The CBI on Friday filed a charge sheet against a junior engineer of the Uttar Pradesh Irrigation Department and his wife for allegedly sexually abusing children and circulating their videos on dark web to mint money, officials said.
The agency has also arrested a man from Delhi in connection with the case but it is keeping his identity under wraps.
The arrested accused was produced before a Banda court for seeking custody in the case, they said.
The CBI filed the charge sheet against Junior Engineer Ram Bhuwan and his wife Durgawati in the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge Mohammand Rizwan Ahmad, Assistant Government Counsel Manoj Dixit said.
The charge sheet was filed in a steel box and it could have more than 2,500 pages, he said.
Mr Dixit said the court has fixed February 15 as the next date of hearing during which all three accused will be present in the court.
In its charge sheet filed before the special court, the CBI presented statements of about 25 victims, aged between 4 to 22 years, besides reports of the digital evidence collected during searches at the residence of the accused.
The junior engineer was arrested on November 16 last year while his wife Durgawati was arrested on December 28.
Currently, both are in judicial custody.
The agency has charged both under 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, but legal advice received by the CBI suggested that since the crime period spans before the law was quashed, the provisions can be invoked.
According to officials, 50-year-old Ram Bhuwan was put through tests to assess his psychological state.
“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 accused had 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 darknet etc.
The CBI probe shows that he was silently operating in the three districts–Hamirpur, Banda and Chitrakoot–for the past 10 years, the officials said.
The modus operandi adopted by the accused to buy silence of the victims helped him to keep away from the radar of investigating agencies.
“Apart from the physical abuse of the 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 and transmitted by the accused using the internet,” the CBI had said after the arrest.
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