The Central Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday carried out searches at 76 locations across 14 states in a crackdown on online child sexual abuse, PTI reported, citing officials of the agency.

The searches were conducted two days after the central agency booked 83 people in 23 cases of online child sexual abuse and exploitation, the officials said.

CBI spokesperson RC Joshi said that the searches were conducted in Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Bihar, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh.

A WhatsApp group with 31 members is at the centre of the investigation, according to NDTV. All members of the group have been booked by the CBI. The accused allegedly shared content related to child sex abuse.

The CBI has also set up a separate unit to investigate cases of child sex abuse.

According to the National Crime Record Bureau’s annual “Crime in India” 2020 report, cyber crimes committed against children rose more than 400% as compared to 2019.

Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest number of cases (170) of online crimes against children, the report said. Karnataka (144), Maharashtra (137) and Kerala (107) also recorded more than 100 such cases in 2020.

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