The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has arrested a Srinagar resident for allegedly running a racket that involved circulating child sexual abuse material (CSAM) on the internet after targeting USA-based minors with the help of his wife who is based there, officials said Tuesday.

The CBI has booked the accused under section 14 (use of a child for pornographic purposes) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and section 67 B (publishing or transmitting of material depicting children in the sexually explicit act, etc. In electronic form) of the Information Technology Act, they said.

The 35-year-old accused was produced before a competent court in Srinagar on Tuesday. It is alleged that he was running the racket along with his wife, understood to be a USA citizen living in Washington.

The CBI has alleged that the wife was in a “master-slave” relation with the accused and exploited minor children in the USA on his directions. She allegedly recorded videos of the explicit acts and sent them to the accused electronically, they said.

“It is alleged that the accused uploaded the CSAM videos and images over the dark web for financial gains and was also involved in direct communication with many minors in the USA,” CBI Spokesperson RK Gaur said. He also alleged that when the victims refused to follow his diktat, he shared these videos and images with their family members.

The special unit of the CBI which tracks online CSAM conducted searches at the premises of the accused at Srinagar which led to the recovery of incriminating digital evidence including three laptops, five mobile phones, pen drives, handwritten notes etc.

“CBI regularly coordinates with international law enforcement agencies to detect and investigate sexual abuse of minors, especially over the cyberspace and also reaffirms its commitment towards promoting cooperation with US Law Enforcement Agencies in combating child sexual abuse in cyberspace,” Gaur said.

On November 16, the CBI had held a Junior Engineer from Chitrakoot district in Uttar Pradesh on the allegations of sexually abusing over 50 children in the state’s Chitrakoot, Banda and Hamirpur districts.

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