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Interpol tip helps FIA ‘save’ boy

Updated October 19, 2017

Email

LAHORE: A risky adventure of three Grade IX friends of Lahore alerted the International Police Organisation (Interpol) in Washington that sent an alert to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) here on Tuesday to save the life of a “kidnapped” boy.

Suleman, 14, uploaded a video on social media application Snapchat of his friend Hasnain being bundled into the trunk of a car with his hands tied at the back and mouth taped.

Considering it a case of kidnapping, information was received on Monday evening from Interpol Washington for urgent action by the Interpol Islamabad National Central Bureau which routed it to FIA’s cyber crime department in Lahore to prevent the possible kidnapping or suicide.

An FIA team headed by Cyber Crime Deputy Director Syed Shahid Hassan located the boys in Gulshan-i-Ravi.

“We traced the three students of Grade IX in Gulshan-i-Ravi and found out that the boys bundled one of their friends into a car trunk while playing a dangerous game — not Blue Whale — where the tied friend could prove his strength,” Assistant Director Muhammad Usman told Dawn.

Talking about how the three boys proceeded in this ‘game’, Mr Usman said: “Suleman and Hamza gave two-and-a-half minutes to Hasnain to untie himself and come out of the car’s trunk – inspired by a challenge in an online game. Both boys recorded Hasnain being bundled into the trunk and uploaded it on Snapchat. When Hasnain could not come out of the trunk in the given time, the other two got him out. His condition was stable.”

The FIA initially took all three boys into custody, but set them free without registering a first information report against them after recording their and their parents’ statements.

“Since no crime has been committed by the boys, we allowed them to go home after conducting a counselling session with them and their parents,” Mr Usman added.

Suleman told FIA that they were good friends and were inspired by different games on social media, including Blue Whale Challenge.

“On Monday, my friends Hasnain and Hamza came to my house and played an online game. It showed how a man tied and locked inside a car’s trunk manages to free himself within two-and-a-half minutes. I asked my friends who will take up this challenge and Hasnain accepted it. The mistake we committed was uploading the video that went viral and we paid for it by being here (FIA),” Suleman said in a statement.

“Parents must keep an eye on their children in this digital age. Allowing them to keep smartphones at a tender age exposes children to such dangerous trends on social media,” FIA Punjab Director Dr Usman Anwar told Dawn.

The response by Interpol Washington within no time has proved that all activity on social media is being “strictly monitored”, an official believed.

Last month, two college girls in Jhelum were expelled after they cut their arms using a knife while allegedly playing the Blue Whale Challenge. The college administration had expelled the girls after detecting self-inflicted injuries on their arms.

Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2017