The Central Bureau of Investigation has booked seven Indians for being part of international WhatsApp groups circulating child sexual abuse content, a probe triggered by the arrest of a group member in Germany, officials said here Monday.
The agency has carried out searches at several locations across the country after registering an FIR against seven persons who owned the numbers which were part of the WhatsApp groups, they said.
The agency was informed by German Embassy on January 31, 2019 about the arrest and conviction of Sasche Treppke in that country for involvement in sexual abuse of children and distribution of related material between November 24, 2015 and July 8, 2016, according to the FIR.
Three long months after receiving the information, the CBI registered a preliminary inquiry on May 10, 2019 to verify the facts, the FIR said. During their investigation, German sleuths searched the residence of Treppke and found huge data in the form of pictures and videos pertaining to child sexual abuse, officials said.
It also surfaced that Treppke was member of 29 WhatsApp groups, having a total of 483 participants, on which the sexual abuse content was shared. Seven "active" Indian numbers too were found to be part of these WhatsApp groups, they said.
After nearly five months of preliminary inquiry, CBI managed to access the customer application forms and identity proofs submitted by these seven subscribers to establish their identities, they said.
The phone numbers are from Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Trying to contact them failed as none were functioning, they said.