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Govt orders Blue Whale ban, Kerala woman says teenage son hanged self for dare

india Updated: Aug 16, 2017 00:06 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Thiruvanthapuram
Kerala,Blue Whale Challenge,Blue Whale suicides

The 16-year-old Manjo C Manu of Thiruvananthapuram was found hanging from a ceiling fan of his home on July 26. But police won’t confirm that Blue Whale killed the boy. According to inspector general of police Manoj Abraham, there’s no proof to link the death to the killer game.(Representational Photo)

The mother of a teenage boy in Kerala said her son died in July playing the dangerous and addictive Blue Whale Challenge online game, which the government banned on Tuesday.

The remarks of C Anu, a software engineer, follow a spate of attempted suicides across India by boys hooked on the game responsible for scores of teenage deaths around the world.

The tragedies and a growing call to ban the game prompted the government to direct internet majors Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Microsoft and Yahoo to immediately remove the links of Blue Whale Challenge and the like.

The game provokes players to do daring, self-destructive tasks for 50 days before taking the “winning” step of death by suicide. The player is asked to film and share photos after finishing each level as proof.

The 16-year-old Manjo C Manu of Thiruvananthapuram was found hanging from a ceiling fan of his home on July 26.

“He told me he came across the game last November and we tried our best to dissuade him. He developed a strange behaviour … used to go and sit in graveyards at night and once jumped into a river during a holiday,” his mother said.

But police won’t confirm that Blue Whale killed the boy. According to inspector general of police Manoj Abraham, there’s no proof to link the death to the killer game.

If Blue Whale killed Manju, he could be the first Indian casualty of the game. His mother said traces of the levels he crossed were found on his mobile phone.

Besides him, school students in Mumbai, Pune, Indore and Dehradun either killed themselves or were saved before they jumped off buildings on instruction from the game’s promoters.

In West Bengal, a Class 10 student choked to death covering his head with a plastic bag tied tightly around his neck with a nylon cord in the bathroom of his home on Saturday. This was after a 14-year-old Mumbai boy jumped from the fifth floor of a building.

Created by a former convict in Russia, Blue Whale is preying on vulnerable teenagers around the world, prompting a call for its ban.

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his Maharashtra counterpart, Devendra Fadnavis, had written to the Union government to take immediate steps against the game.

The central ministry of electronics and IT asked the infotech majors to “to ensure that any such link of this deadly game in its own name or similar game is immediately removed from your platform.”

“Instances of children committing suicide while Blue Whale Challenge have been reported in India,” it said.

But experts believe such drastic steps won’t help as hundreds of similar and copycat games abound the “wild, wild web”. They said parents should monitor kids gaming on mobile phones and computers to know what they are up to.

The parents of a Dehradun boy weren’t aware of the online games he played but noticed his strange behaviour before he tried to kill himself.

(with agency inputs)

First Published: Aug 15, 2017 21:56 IST