The online game Blue Whale Challenge has caused a furore in India. After multiple cases of teenage suicides or attempts to suicide, authorities have finally sounded the warning bells.
Keeping this in mind, the Ministry of Electronics and IT has sent out a circular to Google India, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Microsoft India and Yahoo India.
The government circular says, "It is understood that an administrator of the game uses social media platform to invite/incite children to play this game, which may eventually lead the child to take extreme steps for self-inflicting injuries including suicide. You are hereby required to ensure that any such link of this deadly game in its own name or any similar game is immediately removed from your platform. The proponent of this game should be reported to law enforcement agencies."
The suicide of a 14-year old in Mumbai triggered the debate about the game, and since then, more teenagers are reported to have been playing this game. Recently, a 13-year old teen was stopped from jumping off a building in Indore by his friends. A class 10 student from West Midnapore allegedly committed suicide last week and is suspected to be the latest casualty of this lethal game.
These reports prompted Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi to write a letter to the Home Minister and IT Minister asking for the game to be removed from social media sites.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday urged the Centre to take immediate steps to ban the online Blue Whale Challenge game. "In view of the threat which is already at our doorstep, I would request that immediate action may be initiated to ban this game all over India so that we can save precious lives," Vijayan said in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a copy of which was released to the media in Thiruvananthapuram.
The government of Maharashtra is also contemplating a ban on the game. It is also planning to seek the help of the Centre in banning the game and containing its spread.
The apex body for child rights, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), has also written to the ministry of electronics and information technology thrice on the matter since May asking it to identify violators, according to a ministry spokesperson.
Whether there is a connection between these incidents and the Blue Whale Challenge is still a matter of debate.