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Rajkot Police writes to Google to disable PUBG app

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The Rajkot police has written to Google requesting the company to remove PUBG Mobile from the Play Store in the jurisdiction of Rajkot city, reports Firstpost. The letter was in fact written last month, shortly after Rajkot police imposed the ban. It has surfaced right after both Apple and Google removed TikTok from their stores on direction of the Madras High Court, which refused to revoke the interim ban on the app.

Ban, multiple arrests, and restrictions on public gatherings

Rajkot was the first city in Gujarat to ban PUBG between March 9th to April 30th. The ban can however be further renewed. Rajkot police’s ban notification on PUBG even prohibited unlawful assembly of more than four people in a public place — under Section 144 of the CrPC. A few days after the ban, at least seven people were arrested for playing the game in public. The game has been banned for allegedly inciting violence in children, being addictive, and distracting students from studies. It is worth noting that most of the people arrested were male and aged between 18-26 years. Rajkot police commissioner Manoj Agarwal told Firstpost that even non-players could be booked under Section 188 (disobeying a government order).

Gujarat HC remains in support of ban

The Gujarat High Court last week shot down a PIL filed by the Internet Freedom Foundation against the ban, stating that the petition’s cope did not fall under public interest. Meanwhile, in a separate PIL in the Bombay High Court asking for the ban, the court had directed MeitY to assess and review the game and take action if any “objectionable content” is found. Its worth noting that Nepal has banned PUBG as well, and considered the ban in Indian states while imposing its own ban.

Ahmedabad banned the game on March 14 and lifted it within 15 days. The city police linked the ban order with board exams and reportedly don’t intend to renew the order since the exams are now over. Its unclear whether the ban continues in Surat, Bhavnagar, Gir Somnath, and Panchmahal. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) last month sought a report from MeitY on action taken on PUBG addiction among children in the country. The PUBG bans in Gujarat so far have been enforced when people are caught playing the game in public. The only way to ban PUBG entirely is to direct Google to do so. Its unclear whether Google can block the game solely for the jurisdiction of Rajkot city.

How PUBG reacted

The game it seems introduced a time limit for gameplay, introducing a “health reminder” which popped up after 6 hours of gameplay. A subsequent reminder also asked users about whether they’re below 18 years of age, and it seems that some users clicked on the “Yes” option my mistake, even though they say they’re above 18

Nepal ban challenged in apex court

Meanwhile, the PUBG ban in Nepal has been challenged by a group of lawyers who’ve filed a PIL in the Nepal Supreme Court. They’ve argued that the ban restricts freedom of expression on the internet. Nepal’s telecom regulator had last week directed all internet and mobile  service providers to ban PUBG, while police said it would arrest anybody found playing the game.

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