While Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday blamed the “Blue Whale Challenge” for driving a 14-year-old boy to suicide, Mumbai Police is yet to find any evidence to link the teenager’s death to the infamous Internet game. On Saturday evening, Manpreet, a Class IX student, jumped from the terrace of the seven-floor building in Andheri (East) where he stayed with his family. Speaking in the Assembly on Tuesday, Fadnavis said, “The government is seriously concerned with the impact of the game on young minds. I will take up the matter with the Centre and Computer Emergency Response Team (India) on how to stop the dangerous game.”
“There are reports that the game has led to deaths in several countries. The game engages students to the point where young minds are driven to take extreme steps…,” he said. The issue was raised in the Assembly by NCP leader Ajit Pawar. However, investigation so far has not revealed any link between Manpreet’s suicide and the Blue Whale challenge, said officials. A preliminary analysis of Manpreet’s cell phone has thrown up no reference to the game, police said. A senior police official said a text message and a picture of Manpreet’s last few minutes alive are the only things found on his phone that are relevant to the probe.
“Two hours before he jumped, the deceased sent a text message to a school friend in which he said he was going to commit suicide. He also took a picture of himself sitting on the edge of the terrace,” said the officer. Police are speaking to the friend, said the official. The official added that the phone has been sent to Kalina Forensic Science Laboratory for a detailed analysis to recover any material related to the suicide challenge that Manpreet may have looked up and later deleted. The police also recorded statements of several of his friends from his neighbourhood and school. “No one has told us so far that the deceased had been playing the game,” said the officer.
“So far, we have found nothing to indicate that the deceased had been playing the Blue Whale game, but we are not ruling out anything at the moment,” said ND Reddy, Deputy Commissioner of Police, zone X. The Blue Whale Challenge game is believed to have been responsible for the deaths of at least 130 teenagers in Russia and several in the UK and the US. Reddy appealed to parents to be vigilant of their children playing the game.