New Delhi (Sputnik) — The infamous Blue Whale Challenge has piqued the interest of Indians in an unprecedented manner with the top 30 spots on a Google global list of 50 cities that searched the most for the dangerous online game, allegedly abetting suicides across the world.
Kochi in Kerala, and Kolkata in West Bengal claimed the first two spots respectively, according to Google data. Overall, there are 33 Indian cities in the list of 50 cities worldwide. In West Bengal, two other cities, Siliguri and Howrah, took the 16th and 19th spots respectively.
The first city outside India on the list is Sharjah at 31. The fact that there is a large expat Indian population in the Gulf, including Sharjah, one cannot discount the possibility of an Indian connection there as well. The other major global cities include Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bucharest, Helsinki and others.
The game has garnered bad press both locally and internationally due to the rising number of teenage suicides by its players around the world. The Blue Whale Challenge is played online over a course of 50 days under the supervision of an administrator and throws up easier to extreme tasks, which need to be photographed.
Several of the tasks in the challenge reportedly include cutting oneself and carving messages on the hands and legs, while the dangerous tasks include standing on the ledges of high buildings, bridges, poking yourself with needles, watching disturbing videos sent by the administrator. The final task is to commit suicide.
The Blue Whale challenge is believed to have originated in Russia in 2013, invented by one Philipp Budeikin, who was later arrested and declared guilty of inciting 16 teenagers to commit suicide. Meanwhile, a 17-year-old Russian girl has been arrested for allegedly masterminding the strategy to make the deadly game go viral, according to a report in Hindustan Times.
In India, since July, teenagers from the states of Kerala, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh have reportedly committed suicide, with friends and families alleging the game to be responsible for their deaths.
Several Indian states have demanded the union government to impose a blanket ban following which the Ministry of Electronics and IT in a letter dated August 11 directed six Internet majors — Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Microsoft and Yahoo — to immediately remove links to the dangerous game.