Maneka Gandhi seeks removal of Blue Whale Challenge

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New Delhi: Union Minister of Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi on August 14 wrote to the Union ministries of Home and Information Technology, asking them to ban the controversial online game Blue Whale Challenge, which has resulted in the suicides of several teens.
In letters to Rajnath Singh and Ravi Shankar Prasad, Gandhi asked for their “suitable intervention” to remove the game from social media networks. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, too, had written to the Home ministry earlier seeking their intervention.
“I urge parents & elder to monitor the activities of children & dissuade them from falling prey to such challenges,” tweeted Gandhi.
In the last two week, a 14-year-old boy from Mumbai was found dead after he jumped from a building, while a 15-year-old boy was found hanging from the ceiling fan in his class on Jalgaon. On August 13, in Midnapore, a boy was found dead at his home.
Two more teenagers — a 13-year-old Indore boy and a 14-year-old Pune boy — were saved in the nick of time while trying to take their own lives as part of the challenge.
The peer-based social media game initially started in the Russian networking site VKontakte and players need to register and then look for curators who pass on challenges over a period of 51 days. The final step of the game requires the player to commit suicide, with the player carving out a whale in their arms.
The game was reportedly started by a Russian psychology student, Philipp Budeikin, in 2013 and claimed its first victim in 2015. Budeikin was arrested in 2016, and was found guilty of the suicides of over 16 teenagers.

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