The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has sought a report from MeitY on action taken on PUBG addiction among children in the country, reports The News Minute. Earlier in January, Hyderabad-based activist Vijay Gopal from Forum Against Corruption wrote to the NCPCR and MeitY seeking a ban on the game. Gopal said the video game “promotes war and violence” and impacts children’s psyche as it allows them to “wage war, buy weapons, and invest time in devising strategies on how to kill opponents”. Gopal’s letter noted that a Hyderabad-based Class 9 student was prescribed medication by a psychiatrist for PUBG addiction. This reportedly prompted the NCPCR, which is controlled by the Union Ministry of Women & Child Development, to take up the issue.
Meanwhile, PUBG said it is trying to understand the legal basis of the ban, stating that it was surprised at learning of the ban by local authorities in some cities. PUBG hopes it can have a “dialogue with relevant authorities to explain our objectives and that they withdraw the prohibition”…”To PUBG Mobile players, we want to assure you that we are on your side and we will try our best to find a reasonable solution.”
Multiple arrests in Gujarat for playing PUBG
PUBG has already been banned in several areas in Gujarat. Last week, Gujarat police arrested another eight people in Ahmedabad and Himmatnagar areas. The Rajkot police had also arrested 10 people for playing the game, and booked them for violating a government order. The Rajkot city police has also included, in its PUBG ban order, a prohibitory order under Section 144 order under the CrPC which disallows assembly of more than four people in an area. This is excessive as the order is usually passed in tense situations or when there is potential for public disorder. Moreover, the notification authorizes any officer ranking between police sub-inspector and joint police commissioner to file a complaint against violators, who shall be subject to penalty under Section 188 of the IPC and Section 135 of the Gujarat Police Act.
The Ahmedabad police said it will review the PUBG ban order after some people became concerned that the ban was intrusive of citizens’ privacy and freedom of choice, which the police said was not its intent. “We are constantly evaluating your feedback and will factor in your concerns in our future decisions. Since we are in the middle of examination season the ban on PUBG does serve a direct useful purposes. Ahmedabad city police will do a “serious thinking”, it said, before renewing the current ban order which lapses on 28th March, 2019. The city police has also promised that it would increase awareness about the harmful effects of PUBG even if ban is withdrawn, and will “provide psychological help and counseling services to rehabilitate victims”.
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Bombay HC petition seeking PUBG ban in all Maharashtra schools
Additionally, a 11-year-old boy from Maharashtra has petitioned the Bombay HC to ban the game in all Maharashtra state schools. His petition reasons that the game promoted violence, murder, aggression, looting, leading to game addiction and cyber bullying.
- The PIL points out that India does not have an online ethics review committee to check such volatile and violent content. It states that PUBG was banned in China by such a committee for inducing violence.
- It cited a WHO report about gaming disorders and their adverse impact on children
- It sought direction from the Maharashtra State Education Department to ban PUBG in all schools.
- It also sought direction to MeitY and the Union government to form an Online Ethics Review Committee to monitor such content.
PUBG’s complete statement (Via Times Now):
PUBG Mobile is a game. It is meant merely for entertainment and should be enjoyed in a healthy and responsible manner. In consonance with our endeavour to continue promoting responsible gaming experience, we are working on the introduction of a healthy gameplay system in India to promote balanced, responsible gaming, including limiting play time for under-aged players. We were thus surprised to learn that local authorities in a few cities have decided to impose a ban on playing our game. We are working to understand the legal basis of such bans, and hope we can have a constructive dialogue with relevant authorities to explain our objectives and that they withdraw the prohibition. To PUBG Mobile players, we want to assure you that we are on your side and we will try our best to find a reasonable solution.