In a country where gaming isn't seen as a viable career option by most, ten college students were arrested by the Rajkot City Police, Gujarat. Their heinous crime? The students were “caught red-handed” playing PUBG Mobile in public. You read that right! The battle royale sensation was banned in Rajkot and Surat just last week and the police issued a directive stating any person found playing PUBG Mobile in public is liable for prosecution. PUBG Mobile recently hosted its biggest tournament PUBG Mobile India Series 2019 where winners were rewarded from a prize pool of 1 crore INR. Yet, there's a state in India that has restricted its residents from playing a mobile game.
According to a report by Times of India, ten arrests have been made in cases where college going kids were playing PUBG Mobile in a public place. The Rajkot City Police was on a “special drive” and six students were arrested by sub-inspector N D Damor who were playing PUBG Mobile at hangout spots near Atmiya College.
Inspector V S Vanzara of the Rajkot City Police told The Indian Express that the “police checked their [students] mobile phones to see if the PUBG game was running and also checked the history in their handset. We have filed six different cases against them.” Three more arrests were made from nearby Police Headquarters and the police even seized their phones “for the purpose of investigation”.
“This game is highly addictive and the accused were so engrossed in playing them that they could not even notice our team approaching them,” Rohit Raval of Special Operations Group told The Indian Express.
Vanzara also said that everyone arrested was released on bail. Police Commissioner Manoj Agrawal explained that “people have been booked but there is nothing like arrest in it. In the procedure, they will be shown as immediately bailed out by police. The case will go to the courts and there will be a trial for not following the notification issued.”
Ahmedabad Police issues PUBG advisory
Just hours ago, Ahmedabad Police issued an advisory for the people to get rid of PUBG Mobile. While the notification issued by the police is in Gujarati, using translator we were able to make out a couple of things.
The text starts off with an explanation as to what PUBG is and a bit of history. It then states that the game increases aggressive thoughts and depression in children and youth. The advisory mentions “diseases” like Myopia and teary eyes as results of being hooked on to PUBG. There is the talk of children not being able to sleep due to the addiction towards PUBG Mobile and they're spending more time looking at screens. The police have also released instructions to get rid of the game which asks parents to monitor the use of smartphones by their children and even asks students to avoid discussing PUBG with their friends.
While it's a really commendable initiative by the Gujarat Police to go after youngsters playing a popular mobile game on their own time, instead of tracking down actual criminals, one needs to ask if this is being taken too far. There needs to be more awareness about the growth of the gaming culture in India rather than it being curbed under false pretenses of building a better society.
PUBG Mobile issues statement
On March 15, PUBG Mobile has issued a statement to the media addressing the reports of the game being banned in some parts of India. The company urges everyone to look at PUBG Mobile only as a game that's meant for healthy entertainment. It goes on to reveal that they are going to introduce a system for India which helps promote healthy gaming etiquette. Here's their full statement.
“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 endeavor 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.”