KOLKATA: Northern districts of West Bengal are under the grip of fears induced by 'Momo challenge' after two people committed suicide and one received invitation to play the death game over the past few days.
Eighteen-year-old Manish Sarki of Kurseong in Darjeeling district of West Bengal hanged himself in a pigsty on August 20 spray painting words 'Illuminati', 'doped', 'hanged man' and the name of a girl. His parents suspect that Manish, who had played the game, committed suicide because of it. Police are attempting to open his secured phone.
Aditi Goyal (26), also of Kurseong, committed suicide on August 21. The maid was found hanging in her room. Police are investigating whether the suicide has any links with the game. The same day, on August 21, Jalpaiguri resident Kabita Rai received an invitation to play the game after she expressed her desire of commit suicide on the social media following a spat with her mother.
"I had a heated argument with my mother after which I put up a status expressing my desire to die. Soon, I received message from +1(251)9995451 inviting me to play the death game," Kabita said. Immediately, she blocked the number and informed her brother and filed a police complaint at Kotwali police station.
Close on the heels of the death game 'Blue Whale' that claimed more than 150 lives last year, 'Momo' is a social media account on WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube that uses phone numbers based in Japan, Columbia and Mexico to communicate with players through WhatsApp and gives them violent challenges failing which they are sent horror images, gruesome videos and psychotic audio and blackmail them by hacking into their personal data.
The 'Momo' account uses the 'Mother Bird' sculpture by Japanese artist Midori Hayashi, whose association with the game is however, not yet proved.
The 'Momo challenge' started on Facebook with people challenged to communicate with given numbers. The first death in the game was reported of a 12-year-old in Argentine capital Buenos Aires. According to cyber experts, the game administrators hack the numbers of the players and blackmail them.
However, motive of the game is yet to be ascertained. In view of the fear that has gripped parents across north Bengal, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration vice-chairman Anit Thapa urged the youth not to play 'Momo Challenge'. "I would like to appeal to schools and social and welfare organisations to sensitise the masses especially youths to stay away from such games," he said.