‘Operation Blackface’ is state cyber cell’s call to action against paedophilia

Updated on Feb 07, 2020 04:08 PM IST

1,680 social media posts and internet uploads of child pornography-related material originating in Maharashtra under police scanner over the last eight months

During the last one-and-a-half months, 10 persons have been arrested under a special drive called ‘Blackface’.(HT/PHOTO)
During the last one-and-a-half months, 10 persons have been arrested under a special drive called ‘Blackface’.(HT/PHOTO)
Hndustan Times, Pune | ByNadeem Inamdar

In the last eight months, 1,680 social media posts and internet uploads of child pornography-related material originating in Maharashtra have been brought to the attention of the cyber crime department of the Maharashtra police.

According to the Maharashtra government’s superintendent of police (cyber crime) Balsingh Rajput, the data on child pornography-related material was provided by social media and electronic service providers to the US-based National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NICMEC), which shared it with the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) under a collaboration. The Maharashtra police, in turn, have shared the details with the district Superintendents of Police (SP) for further action.

The Maharashtra police have lodged 47 First Information Reports (FIRs) across the state out of which 16 are under Pocso (The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act, 2012; 29 are under the Information Technology Act, 2000, and one is under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). During the last one-and-a-half months, 10 persons have been arrested under a special drive called ‘Blackface’, said Rajput.

The FIRs have been lodged in 15 small and big cities of Maharashtra including Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Pune, Nashik, Raigad, Kolhapur, Latur, Ahmednagar, Beed, Parbhani, Aurangabad, Bhandara, Nandurbar and Chandrapur.

“We have sent the data to each of the places where the offences have been located and are monitoring the cases on a daily basis,” he said.

On February 5, 2019, Pune police booked two brothers, one a teenager, for uploading child pornographic videos on a video website. A case under Section 65(b) of Information Technology Act and Section 14(1) of Pocso Act was registered at the Khadak police station.

‘Global consortium needed to block child pornography’

Sanjay Singh, a New Delhi-based crusader against child sexual abuse and founder, Break the Silence Foundation, said, “Child pornography is becoming a trend and it is easy to exploit children. It is also a multi-million dollar business as there is a heavy demand for it. Paedophilia is a serious crime and as a society, we need to fight it with all the legal strength. He said, although a legislation to prevent paedophilia is available and websites circulating the banned pornographic material can be blocked, that is not happening and is a major cause of concern. A global consortium is needed to block it and the entire system needs to be overhauled.”

14 cases under investigation in Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad

In Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad, police have begun investigations into 14 cases of child pornography-cum-child sexual exploitation related posts on social media and online platforms. These are crimes relating to paedophilia; clicking nude pictures and making nude videos of children and their sexual exploitation by the abusers.

Pimpri-Chinchwad police commissioner Sandeep Bishnoi said that the First Information Reports (FIRs) were lodged at the police stations after receiving online reports. DCP (Economic Offences Wing and Cyber Crime ) Sambhaji Kadam said that four such cases were lodged based on the information generated through tipline reports. NCMEC’s Cyber Tipline is the centralised reporting system in the US for the online exploitation of children. “We are investigating these cases on top priority bases and have very strong leads,” he said.

The cases in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad were lodged at Hinjewadi, Alandi, Nigdi, Wakad, Pimpri, Chinchwad, two each at Chakan and Sangvi police stations.

Tackling crime against children

Cases have been registered under various sections of the Information Technology Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (Pocso)

In Maharashtra

1,680: Cases of social media posts and internet uploads of child pornography have been registered in the last eight months

47: Total number of FIRs lodged by the state police

16: Complaints are under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act, 2012

29: Complaints are under the Information Technology Act, 2000

1: Complaint under the Indian Penal Code (IPC)

Operation Blackface

45 days- Running time of operation

10- Number of persons arrested through the operation

FIRs have been lodged at

Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Pune, Nashik, Raigad, Kolhapur, Latur, Ahmednagar, Beed, Parbhani, Aurangabad, Bhandara, Nandurbar and Chandrapur

Pocso Act, 2012

Sections under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act, 2012, are invoked against whoever uses a child or children for pornographic purposes. Further, any person who stores pornographic material involving children in any form for commercial purposes, and any person who fails to report the commission of an offence are liable for punishment under sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and under the Information Technology (IT) Act. The maximum number of cases that have been reported so far are under Section 14 of the Pocso Act.

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