An Uttar Pradesh government employee, who is facing charges of sexually abusing 50 children for a decade, used to allegedly target poor families because the victims could be lured with gadgets and electronics, said senior Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officials on Wednesday.
Ram Bhavan Singh, a suspended junior engineer in the state irrigation department posted in Chitrakoot , was arrested by CBI from Banda district on Monday. If found guilty, he faces life imprisonment.
He is facing charges under the Information Technology Act, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code for allegedly sexually exploiting children between 5 and 16, for a decade and selling videos and photographs of sexual abuse on the dark web to paedophiles across the world.
The CBI recovered eight mobile phones, around eight lakh rupees in cash, sex toys, laptop, and other digital evidence carrying huge amount of child sexual abuse materials (CSAM), officials said. During examination of the phones and laptop, investigators gathered 66 videos and 610 photographs of children, said a CBI official on condition of anonymity.
A second CBI official said Singh targeted children of street vendors, daily wagers, pavement dwellers and domestic helps who worked at his two-room rented house in Chitrakoot, where he lived for 10 years. The children hailed from Banda, Chitrakoot and Hamirpur districts, the official added.
“During interrogation, the accused revealed that he targeted children who could easily be lured with money, electronic gadgets, eatables or any other thing they were deprived of. Ram Bhawan believed that he could easily handle the families,” the second official stated.
The official said on two occasions in the past 10 years, the children complained about him to their parents, but Singh allegedly hushed up the matter by paying money to the poor parents.
The official also explained that Singh hailed from Banda, was posted in neighbouring Chitrakoot district for 11 years and had several relatives from Hamirpur — three districts where the majority of his alleged victims were from.
Singh was produced in a Pocso court in Banda on Wednesday and the court decided to hear the CBI’s plea seeking five-day custody on Thursday.
The CBI needs his custody remand in connection with the ongoing physical verification of his alleged victims in three districts of the Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh.
The remand application was filed in the court of additional district judge (five) Rizwan Ahmad on Wednesday.
CBI counsel Manoj Kumar, Ram Sufal Singh and Jai Prakash Sahu said the agency needed the remand to complete the probe. Singh’s counsel Arvind Singh Chandel opposed the plea and said he was not aware of the case fully, nor was he given any documents.
The court granted him a day to study the documents. Outside the court, a large crowd gathered to catch a glimpse of the accused.
Married for 18 years, Singh allegedly trapped the children by showering affection on them, said a third CBI official.
“His relatives could not assess his ulterior motive, thinking he was making up for being childless. Apart from the videos and pictures, the CBI found a number of compact discs and video-making equipment,” added the official.
Singh came on the radar of the CBI’s Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention/Investigation (OCSAE) unit after the agency busted the location of uploading child pornography recently. “A scrutiny of emails of the accused revealed that he was allegedly in constant touch with several individuals (Indian and foreign nationals) for the purpose of sharing CSAM,” said a fourth agency official.