Accused Use AI Voice Cloning to Lure and Assault Tribal Girls in Madhya Pradesh

Accused Use AI Voice Cloning to Lure and Assault Tribal Girls in Madhya Pradesh

Sidhi Horror: Accused Used AI Voice App to Lure and Assault Tribal Girls

Sidhi, Madhya Pradesh – In a shocking revelation, more than four tribal girls in the Sidhi district have been raped under the guise of offering scholarships by a group of four individuals. The accused used a voice cloning app to impersonate a female professor. They invited the victims to isolated locations where they were raped.

After obtaining the victims' no.s. from college groups, they called them, posing as "Archana Ma'am," requesting them to come and sign scholarship forms. Upon resistance, they would subject the victims to verbal abuse, physical assault, and death threats. Additionally, they would snatch their mobile phones.

Superintendent of Police Ravindra Verma of Sidhi district said, "We have arrested the accused, Brajesh Prajapati, and two other men who assisted him by providing the phone number of the first victim. The accused used a voice-changing application available on the app store."

He continued, "In one case, the accused raped a woman and her minor sister by luring them into a forested region. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) has also been invoked against him."

Verma added, "The accused have been calling girls and sexually exploiting them since January of this year. So far, crimes against four girls have been confirmed. These numbers could increase."

The main accused, Prakash Prajapati, who is 30 years old, is a labourer. He also admitted to using stolen mobile SIM cards to access WhatsApp and obtain the numbers of other girls from groups to continue his crimes. According to Sidhi police, 16 mobile phones were recovered from his possession, which is currently being investigated.

The accused used a "magic call" app that changes a man's voice to a woman's voice, a technique he learned from YouTube. As per Sidhi police, the accused called the women to isolated spots, promising to provide their scholarship money. As a female college professor, he told the women that her son would meet them and escort them to their home, where the scholarship would be disbursed. He then took the victims to an isolated spot in a forested area, where he raped them in an abandoned house.

To avoid being caught, he would steal the girls' phones and commit crimes in the evening under the cover of darkness. He would pick up the girls on his bike wearing a helmet and gloves.

Cyber expert Shailesh Singh commented on the ease of using such deceptive technology, "There are currently hundreds of applications on the Play Store that use artificial intelligence techniques to change voices. These apps are very easy to use, and it is difficult to differentiate between a real voice and one created by these applications."

Singh emphasized the dangers of unregulated AI, stating, "Currently, there are no proper regulations governing AI, which can be very dangerous. There is a pressing need to raise awareness about artificial intelligence among the public." He also highlighted the necessity for strict laws and regulations to prevent AI from being used for criminal activities.

The police have arrested four individuals, including Brajesh Prajapati, Sandeep Prajapati, and Rahul Prajapati. An offence has been registered under Sections 376(2)(N), 342, 294, 323, 506, 366, 394, and 120B of the Indian Penal Code, and an investigation has been initiated.

The district administration has demolished all the accused's illegal constructions. Chief Minister Mohan Yadav has also constituted a nine-member special investigation team to probe the matter thoroughly.

Tribal activists have expressed their intent to launch a protest and call for a bandh if they find any irregularities in the Special Investigation Team's investigation.

Madhya Pradesh Tops the List for Crimes Against Tribals

Sanjay Suryawanshi, a Dalit activist based in Madhya Pradesh, voiced his concerns, stating, "The current government is anti-tribal. There is a lot of exploitation of tribals happening in Madhya Pradesh. Seventy-five years have passed since our country gained freedom, but the condition of tribals has still not improved; it is worsening further."

He further highlighted the systemic challenges, adding, "The functioning of the administration makes it very difficult for a tribal or Dalit person to get justice."

According to the NCRB data for 2021, Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest number of cases of atrocities against Scheduled Tribes (STs), with 2,627 cases, followed by Rajasthan with 2,121 cases. This data underscores the pervasive issue of exploitation and violence faced by tribal communities in the region.

Lawmakers, Enforcers and Technology

As available technology advances and becomes more sophisticated, the chances of its misuse grow exponentially. The spread and rampant misuse of malicious mobile apps have become a massive challenge for law enforcement agencies. Law enforcement agencies often cite a lack of solid and clear laws against such crimes, and one could not agree more. The existing cybercrime laws need a relook and an overhaul; to do that, a strong political will is required.

It is also true that our law enforcement agencies have not yet adopted the latest technology, which will give them an edge over criminals. In addition, the Internet, a.k.a. cyberspace, is vast and nearly ungovernable. It is easy for criminals to hide behind the almost impenetrable wall of anonymity and take on fake and multiple identities. While the cliched "What goes on the Internet stays on the Internet" is true, one cannot deny that we lack the expertise and resources to understand digital footprints and to trace their origin.

At the same time, pointing out the non-accountability of application aggregator platforms like Google's Play Store and Apple's App Store is imperative. The only way to install malicious apps is through these stores. Although the platforms claim that all listed apps undergo rigorous quality and privacy checks, the apps continue to be available on the platforms and freely available on the Internet.

On the one hand, we call for stricter laws to deter cybercriminals. On the other hand, app developers and platforms hide behind an intricate web of the same laws and loopholes, preventing criminals from being brought to justice.

It is abundantly clear that till the lawmakers and law enforcers do not work hand-in-glove, cases like the one in Sidhi will continue unabated,

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