Earlier this month, PUBG Mobile was banned in several Indian districts, following concerns over its content and addictive nature. Rajkot police have been heavily enforcing the ban across the city, making ten arrests in the last two days.
The ban began with a public outcry against the mobile battle royale game, which pits players against each other in a bid to be the last man standing.
PUBG Mobile has faced heavy criticism in the Indian media and is being linked to violence, murder, aggression, looting, cyberbullying, and addiction. Parents, mental health professionals, and even an 11-year-old child were among those calling for the ban, which was put in place in Rajkot on March 6th by Police Commissioner Manoj Agrawal.
The ban is enforced under section 188 of the Indian Penal Code and is categorized as an “obstruction, annoyance, or injury.” Under this law, gamers can be arrested for playing PUBG Mobile and may face up to one month in prison.
In a statement made to The Indian Express, Agrawal explains that the offense is bailable, but will go to court. He said, “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.”
The Rajkot Special Operations Group (SOG) have been enforcing the law, but those breaking it are not hiding their crimes very well. Three youths were arrested near the police headquarters. SOG police inspector Rohit Raval stated, “This game is highly addictive and the accused were so engrossed in playing them that they could not even notice our team approaching them.” He goes on to state that they had their mobile phones seized “for the purpose of the investigation.”
These arrests come just a day after six college students were also arrested for playing the game at fast-food joints near the college. Another arrest was made the same day by University Police. Those involved have since been released on bail.
The police are enforcing the law strictly, and Agrwal reminds them:
“The notification falls in two parts. One is the person who is playing the game is liable for notification violation. At the same time, people who are aware that they are playing PUBG and still not communicating this to the authorities are also liable for an equal amount of violation.”
This means that looking the other way is as much of an offense as playing the game.
With police so strictly enforcing the ban it looks like PUBG Mobile is going to struggle to gain ground in India, unless it can prove that its reputation has been unfairly tarnished.