"Contact Us If You Receive Invitation For Momo Challenge", Says Mumbai & Odisha Police
After the deadly Blue Whale challenge from 2017, the new internet fad over the ‘Momo Challenge’ has got both police authorities and parents in a worrisome state of mind. The Momo Challenge, a game similar in nature to its 2017 predecessor, prompts players especially teenagers and children to commit suicide as a part of the game’s final task.
The game has made a headway in several countries around the world, including India, where people have allegedly been receiving invites for the challenge on their phones. Following the internet craze over the notorious suicide game, police authorities in India have issued notices and circulars explaining the downside of playing the game.
Police departments issue notice on the Momo Challenge
After West Bengal CID and Mumbai Police, the Odisha Police’s Crime Branch, on September 2 had issued an advisory against the ‘Momo Challenge’ where they urged parents and teachers to protect their children from the game.
According to NDTV, the advisory stated, “On social media, a game with the name ‘Momo Challenge’ is being circulated by some mischievous and criminal minded people. This game instigates people, especially children to commit suicide as a final task. Some innocent people around the world have fallen prey to this game.” It further mentioned the steps to be taken by parents to keep their ward away from the deadly challenge. Additionally, the advisory, like all others has placed focus on monitoring the behaviour of teenagers and students.
The West Bengal CID, alarmed by the reports of alleged suicides of two persons linked to the Momo Challenge in north Bengal’s Darjeeling district has been issuing advisories using its official Twitter handle.
— CID West Bengal (@CIDWestBengal) August 27, 2018
However, the West Bengal CID DIG (Operations) Nishat Pervez said that there is no reason to connect the recently reported suicide cases in West Bengal to ‘Momo Challenge,’ reported DNA.
Earlier in August, the Mumbai Police had also issued a notice against the challenge on Twitter where it used a meme to warn people against the dangers of the challenge.
— Mumbai Police (@MumbaiPolice) August 18, 2018
Given the recent reports on the Momo Challenge that have surfaced online, not just different police departments, but the Ministry Of Electronics and IT on August 27 had also issued a page-long notification on the challenge.
According to Hindustan Times, police in West Bengal had also arrested a 19-year-old engineering student of a private college hailing from Durgapur for sending the invite of the Momo challenge to another youth. He was arrested under sections 419 (cheating) and 505 (1) (b) (causing fear in public) of the IPC and sections 66D and 70 of the IT Act.
What is the Momo Challenge?
Reportedly, the game surfaced on Facebook, where people would be challenged to talk to unknown people with unknown numbers, mainly through WhatsApp. Once, the contact is established, players are asked to perform a series of tasks, violent in nature, which is to be completed in order to meet ‘Momo’. If a player refuses to follow the orders, they are threatened with violent pictures. The invite to the challenge is reportedly sent by accounts with name ‘Momo’ on Facebook, Youtube and WhatsApp. The series of tasks end with the player killing themselves.
The picture, which has become the face of the challenge is being used by perpetrators to spark curiosity among individuals. The picture of a half bird half woman sculpture has become synonymous with the challenge. The image is actually that of an artwork called ‘Mother Bird’ by Link Factory which has been inspired by the work of a Japanese artist Midori Hayashi, who reportedly, has no connection with the deadly game.
In July 2018, a 12-year-old girl’s death from Argentina is suspected to have links with the challenge. In India, the local police in Ajmer has been probing the death of a 15-year-old girl who allegedly committed suicide by hanging on August 20. According to Times Now, the family members of the victim had demanded an inquiry into the involvement of the game in the death of the girl.
Teenagers at risk
While the authenticity of the challenge is being questioned by cybersecurity officials and police forces across the world, the issue of mental health among adolescents is also being highlighted. As reported by The Hindu, Bhagwat Rajput, a psychiatrist at Aakash Healthcare Super Speciality Hospital said, “Momo Challenge poses a serious risk to those who are already depressed or battling suicidal thoughts. The perpetrators take advantage of the vulnerability of such people and further lead them on a path of self-destruction and ultimately suicide.”
The Logical Indian take
Taking the seriousness of the issue into consideration, anyone is susceptible to this game. Parents, teachers and cybersecurity authorities observe that their kids are not failing in trap of such game and they must keep a track of the growing menace of online challenges which create mass hysteria among users. It is requested that if someone receives an invitation to join the challenge then report it to the police.