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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:  The 24-year-old from Kerala arrested for allegedly running a child porn chat group,  had boasted that he could not be arrested by anyone and encouraged members to post pornographic pictures of children.

Sharaf Ali was the administrator of the “Poombatta” group on the Telegram messaging app, which was closed down on November 28. An aspiring accountant, Sharaf Ali also ran ‘Naadan Thoond’, an online porn channel. The police said the groups had nearly 5000 followers.

According to sources, three people from the police team had joined the group following a tip-off from an international agency. It was they who gathered the evidence, Manoj Abraham, officer in-charge of Kerala’s cyberdome — a specialised wing to crack down on cyber related crimes.

The police, Mr Abraham said, had cracked down on five Facebook-based child porn groups and five other groups on WhatsApp.

“We started tracking Telegram after we got an alert from an international agency, saying a Kerala-based girl child’s photograph was being circulated. We had a covert action and involved various social engineering techniques involving digital policing as well as traditional policing,” the officer said. After the crackdown, 47 such groups on Telegram have been shut down.

Jaljith Thottoli, a medical transcriptionist, was one of those who blew the whistle on Sharaf Ali. “I had seen videos of a four-year-old child being raped by a two men, fathers posting pictures of their nude unsuspecting children. It was gruesome,” Mr Jaljith, 38, told NDTV.

“I was in communication with the state police and officially sent several mails to them, which includes evidences and a complaint, right from the day I joined the group and submitted all evidence to them,” he added.

The police said they were investigating even the people who claimed they were there to help. “All members of the group are under the scanner because viewing, posting and distributing child porn is a criminal offence,” Mr Abraham said. “If anybody claims they were in the group to help police, the evidence and motive shall be looked into and the decision shall be taken accordingly”.

Mr Thottoli had said that on Poombatta, there was even a debate on how the children should be. While some spoke for including children only upto three years, claiming they will have no memories of the abuse, the admin had ruled the age group should be 4 to 15 years.

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