The Childline in Kerala’s Malappuram district has exposed a high-profile drug-and-sex racket involved in accosting schoolgirls through Instagram.
The racketeers have been found drugging the girls they befriend through Instagram and trapping and abusing them sexually. A 14-year-old girl from a well-to-do family in the district was rescued by the Childline last week. The ninth standard girl had become a drug addict, and was raped for months by many people.
The girl has revealed that she was given ganja first, then hashish oil and cocaine. The girl was reportedly promised higher drugs of injection. Currently in the custody of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), the girl is showing withdrawal symptoms. Some of those who abused the girl had reportedly threatened to finish her off if she revealed their names.
Although the girl identified seven people involved in the racket, the police arrested only one of them. Seven cases have been registered at the Kalpakanchery police station. Those involved in the care and protection of children in the district have been dismayed by the laxity displayed by the police in the case.
The police produced the abused child before the CWC on Tuesday only after having been asked to do so by CWC chairman Shajesh Bhaskar.
“This is not an ordinary POCSO case. This is a case of extreme seriousness demanding serious and immediate intervention. I was shocked to see such a crime. Never before could we detect such a thing in Malappuram. The racket traps girls through Instagram, makes them addicts to drugs, and abuses them sexually,” said Mr. Bhaskar.
What was more shocking for the authorities was that the girl was raped in her own house at night. She opened the door for them secretly. They gave her drugs, showed her smut videos and abused her sexually in her house repeatedly for months while her family was asleep.
The police said they were investigating the case. They said most of the accused had gone underground.
The CWC chairman said the girl was in need of de-addiction. “We have arranged for her de-addiction. Apart from her de-addiction, her protection is also a matter of grave importance for us,” Mr. Bhaskar said.
He said he would not wait for more than two days before writing to the government seeking higher intervention.
Childline officials said the girl’s case was just a tip of the iceberg. Several girls are feared to have fallen in the online trap set by the drug gangs, especially after schools and colleges turned to online classes during the COVID-19 lockdown