The Delhi Police on Tuesday took a school student into custody in connection with an online group chat on Instagram, where teenage boys from South Delhi schools indulged in conversations about rape and shared photos of several underage girls, reported NDTV.
The teenager has identified 20 more boys, who were part of the social media group. The Cyber Cell of the Delhi Police has seized the student’s mobile phone for further investigation.
Deputy Commissioner of Police, Cyber Crime, Anyesh Roy said the department took suo moto cognisance of the social media posts, according to Hindustan Times. “No one has come forward with a complaint so far,” he told the newspaper. “We are registering a case under the Information Technology Act and other relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code.”
However, an unidentified senior police officer told The Indian Express that the administration of a prominent private school has filed a complaint at the Saket police station. “In their complaint, school authorities requested police to investigate the incident,” he added. “Police, using technical surveillance, got the registered number of the 15-year-old, who had allegedly shared a photograph on the group. His phone was switched off. After finding his address, he was apprehended on Monday evening.”
Another officer told the newspaper that the purported chats of the boys also included threats of sexual violence. Names of four private schools from South Delhi and one from Noida have been linked to the group so far.
Massive outrage erupted online after several social media users on Sunday posted screenshots of crude conversations from the group named “Bois locker room”. The screenshots showed members of the group – believed to be students of some top schools in Delhi and some allegedly as young as 13-years-old – sharing photos of teenage girls and making explicit comments about their bodies. The list of members of the group chat has also been released publicly.
The incident has renewed the debate about the normalisation of rape, objectification and slut-shaming of women. The hashtag #BoysLockerRoom became a top trend on Twitter on Monday, with thousands of posts. In a series of tweets, Me Too India – an outgrowth of the powerful global movement against sexual assault – said that there was an urgent need to address toxic masculinity.
The Delhi Commission for Women on Monday also took cognisance of the matter and issued notices to the police as well as Instagram. The panel demanded that the police submit a report on the action taken in the case by May 8.
“It has been reported that the members of the group have discussed techniques of raping women and gang-raping minors,” the Delhi Commission for Women said in its notice. “This is a very serious matter in which an online platform is being openly used for illegal activities. The commission has instituted an inquiry into the matter.”