2 girls run away from Agra to com­plete task, res­cued in MP

Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur) - - Front Page - Neeraj San­toshi let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

Two 14-year-old girls who ran away from Agra in UP while play­ing the Blue Whale Chal­lenge game were found on the rail­way sta­tion in Mad­hya Pradesh’s Hoshangabad district on Thurs­day, of­fi­cials said.

The Class 9 stu­dents were spot­ted on Tues­day by Gov­ern­ment Rail­way Po­lice (GRP) per­son­nel, who called the child helpline num­ber and handed them to the Child Wel­fare Com­mit­tee.

The CWC’s mem­bers coun­selled them and dur­ing their ques­tion­ing, the girls said they were play­ing the stage two of the deadly game and were tasked to run away from home. The deadly game, cre­ated by a for­mer Rus­sian con­vict, pro­vokes play­ers to in­dulge in dar­ing, self-de­struc­tive tasks for 50 days be­fore tak­ing the fi­nal “win­ning” step of death by sui­cide.

Anil Jha, a se­nior mem­ber of the com­mit­tee who ques­tioned the girls, said when they were in­formed about the in­ci­dent, they first spoke to the par­ents and told them to reach Hoshangabad as soon as pos­si­ble. “They had left Agra by Pun­jab Mail at 8am on Tues­day with their bags, mo­bile phones and lap­top. They kept their phones switched off. But when school time was over at around 4.30pm, they switched on their phones. One of the girls saw a lot of miss calls and mes­sages. Wor­ried about what her par­ents might be go­ing through, she called her brother and told him the whole story,” he said.

Jha said her brother told them to get down at the next sta­tion and that they will take them home.

“On Tues­day evening, they got down at Hoshangabad rail­way sta­tion and started wait­ing. Spot­ting two young girls wait­ing for a long time, GRP per­son­nel found some­thing sus­pi­cious about their body lan­guage. They ap­pre­hended them and in­formed the child help line,” he said.

Jha said they were pro­duced be­fore the CWC on Wed­nes­day.

“We coun­selled them for a long time dur­ing which they opened up and re­vealed that they had run away from home as tasked un­der stage two of the Blue Whale game. Fi­nally, their par­ents ar­rived and we handed over them to their par­ents after due pa­per­work,” he said. Jha said it was per­haps the first case where chil­dren play­ing the on­line game had con­tacted their fam­ily mem­bers.

Two days after a 10-yearold stu­dent in Shimla district was found hang­ing from the store­room of his house, it is still not clear if he was a vic­tim of the Blue Whale chal­lenge, an on­line game.

In his sui­cide note, the vic­tim chal­lenged everyone, in­clud­ing the po­lice, to solve the mys­tery of his death. The last line in the note found from his room said, “Solve this puz­zle”. He wrote that no one loved him and added, “Slit­ting veins etc is not a pun­ish­ment. I will pun­ish my­self by hang­ing.”

The men­tion of slit­ting veins has made the po­lice sus­pect the boy was play­ing the deadly on­line game.

“It wasn’t pos­si­ble for him to play the game. He did not have ac­cess to ei­ther in­ter­net or mo­bile phone for long,” a po­lice of­fi­cer said. “How­ever, for the past few days, he played some game on the mo­bile phone of a car­pen­ter work­ing in the house.”

The po­lice are yet to reg­is­ter a case and are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the mat­ter. “So far there is no ev­i­dence of Blue Whale chal­lenge. We are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the case,” said SP Soumya Sam­ba­si­van.

SAURABH CHAUHAN

The deadly game pro­vokes play­ers to in­dulge in self­de­struc­tive tasks for 50 days be­fore tak­ing the fi­nal step of death by sui­cide.

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