Manish Kumar | Sep 4, 2018 | 3 min read
4 days after state police issue advisory on Momo Challenge, 2nd Odisha youth suspected dead due to game
Subrat Kumar Pati
Bhubaneswar: Suicide of another Odisha youth is suspected by his parents and the police to be driven by a new killer mobile game called 'Momo Challenge', which is being circulated through WhatsApp.
Just four days ago the state police had issued an advisory about the possible dangers of playing the game, including guidelines for the media to not link suicide cases to the game unless verified by the cops.
A 25-year-old Cuttack resident, Umakant Behera, is suspected to be the new victim of the vicious game that leads to a final ‘suicide’ challenge. Behera was found hanging in an under-construction house near his home in Umara village of Cuttack in Odisha Wednesday morning.
His father, Alekha Behera, said the youth was earlier employed in a Chennai-based private company, but had been living in Cuttack with his parents for the last three months. A case was registered at the Mahanga police station.
‘Was addicted to his phone’
Umakant’s parents claim an introvert in nature, their son was addicted to his mobile phone so much so that he would remain engrossed in it for hours.
“Last evening also he was seen as usual engrossed with his mobile phone. Today morning we found his body hanging in an under construction building,” his father said.
Alekha added that neither the family nor Umakant had any enmity or feud with anyone in the village and they do not suspect any foul play in his son’s death.
In his complaint before the police, Alekha has written about the possibility of Momo Challenge having a role in his son’s suicide attempt. Some of his friends have also indicated that Umakant had been playing the game. The police said that Umakant’s mobile phone has been sent to the forensic team for investigation.
Inspector in-charge, Mahanga police station, Jugal Das, who is the investigating officer in the case, said the father of the deceased told him that his son had been playing the Momo Challenge.
“We are examining the case from all possible angles. We have sent the mobile to the experts to scrutinise it,” Cuttack (Rural) SP Madhab Sahoo said.
These incidents are akin to the infamous Blue Whale Challenge which took the lives of many around the globe.
This is the second suspected death due to Momo Challenge of an Odia resident. Earlier on August 22, an Odia student hailing from Rourkela had ended his life by jumping off the sixth floor of a hospital in Chennai in a case suspected to be driven by Momo Challenge.
Two suspected deaths in Colombia too
The game involves adding a phone number, believed to belong to a certain ‘Momo’, who uses an image of a scary face as a profile picture, and sends challenges to the user culminating in a suicide dare.
A form of cyberbullying, such games challenge users to commit dangerous tasks, which if not completed could lead to leakage of personal information, or potential harm to family, the users are threatened.
The Momo Challenge has spread across various countries like Argentina, India, Spain, Mexico, US, Brazil, Canada, France and Germany among others. Two children in late August in Colombia reportedly committed suicide within a span of 48 hours after having attempted the Momo Challenge.
Indian experts believe the game is a hoax aimed at collecting personal data.
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