Online predators: Telangana SHE teams identify 510 cyberstalkers

Officials open decoy accounts on social media platforms and online dating sites to trap and identify stalkers and blackmailers

Hyderabad: Police SHE teams have identified around 510 men from across Telangana, who stalk women online, blackmail victims or merely to harass them. Some of the men are from other states. To contain such crimes, SHE teams are all set to launch a major crackdown.
“We are using special software to track down stalkers and blackmailers,” an official said.

In order to trap and identify such men, they have opened decoy accounts on social media platforms like Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook, LinkedIn, apart from online dating sites.

In addition to trying to catch the online predators, they have zeroed in on 465 hotspots in the city where women police officers, armed with video cameras, will keep an eye on stalkers.

“We get sensitive cases where the victim is totally depressed and develops suicidal tendencies. I take them to my office after first arresting the culprit. The problem is that most victims lose hope and do not trust anyone. They don’t even share their problems with their parents.” C Sirisha Raghavendra, additional commissioner SHE teams, said.

“As many such victims develop a phobia against men, we have created an atmosphere in our office where victims do not feel intimidated and feel secure during their meetings. Staff members are without uniform, as sometimes, a victim may not be open when she sees a uniformed police officer. Even lawyers are asked to shed their court garments and appear in regular attire,” she said.

“I counsel the victim one on one. It’s very hard but when I introduce her to another victim, who has since recovered, then the person picks up some courage and opens up,” Sirisha said.

She said that she has counselled around 3,300 victims, who have regained confidence and are doing well in their jobs.

“We have identified many men who fit the profiles of harassers, stalkers and blackmailers. Very soon our officials will knock on their doors. We have collected videos and other abusive material they posted, which will count as prime evidence during prosecution,” an official said.

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