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One more held in porn racket

Navghar police arrested one more person from Nashik on Saturday in connection with the circulation of child pornography videos by members of a WhatsApp group in Bhayander. On Friday, five members of the group were held from Mumbai and Thane after a member of the group filed a police complaint.

Atul Kulkarni, Additional Superintendent of Police, Thane Rural Police, said, “We are questioning the accused and trying to apprehend more members of the group.” He said data retrieved from the cell phones of the accused showed that they had been circulating the videos since the start of this year. Mr. Kulkarni said, “It is possible that more videos were being shared on the group before the arrested accused became its members.”

The police said that the group had 217 members belonging to States such as Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. The group’s administrator hails from Tamil Nadu and seven members are based abroad.

An officer, who is part of the investigation, said, “The accused posted links on social media platforms inviting like-minded members to join the group. It is not clear if the group’s objective was to share child pornography videos or the practice started at a later stage. The group has been active for around two years.”

The police are seeking legal opinion on whether the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act can be invoked in the case. The arrested have been charged with publishing or transmitting material depicting children in sexually explicit acts under the Information Technology Act, and have been remanded in judicial custody.

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