On Sunday, Ghaziabad police arrested a man named Abdul Rehman alias Nanni, a resident of Ballia and currently living in Sanjay Nagar, Ghaziabad, for allegedly inciting and motivating two minors (a Hindu and a Jain) to engage in Islamic religious activities. A resident of Kavinagar police station area filed a complaint on May 30, alleging that his minor son has been converted to Islam.
Officials said that the plan was hatched by a Maharashtra resident, Shahnawaj Maksud, adding Rehman was helping him execute then plan.
Shahnawaz, who claimed himself to be innocent, was conspiring with Maqsood Khan alias Baddo Kishore to convert girls. The evidence of an attempt to convert a teenager is also with the police. He sent Islamic material to a friend of his coaching by putting pressure on the conversion victim Rajnagar’s teenager.
How it unearthed?
Sharad Kumar Jain belongs to a middle-class family and works hard to make sure his children get everything they want in life. He lives in Ghaziabad City of Uttar Pradesh. For the past few months, his youngest son, Sanskar (name changed) was behaving strangely. As a common practice in Jainism, he asked Sanskar to go to the temple but he would simply ignore it, many such changes were observed in his behaviour.
Sanskar, a minor would go out five times a day, telling his mother that he was going to the gym. Considering the behavioural change, one day Sharad followed him. He was shocked to find that his son was going to a Mosque when confronted Sanskar accepted that he has started offering Namaz.
When asked for the reasons Sanskar said, he has started believing in Islam and that he finds it more reasonable and trustworthy. Everything happens for a reason in Islam
The alleged modus operandi of the accused in Gaming Jihad is to target ‘gullible victims’ through video games and brainwash them into converting to Islam.
It is said that Khan, a “game developer”, won the trust of some children by helping them win online games. After gaining their trust, he reportedly taught them about Islam claiming that they would start winning games in the future. The accused reportedly asked victims to recite the Quran in order to win. In some cases, teenage boys who fell prey to this were apparently also shown videos of Maulana Tariq Jameel and radical Muslim preacher Zakir Naik.
He reportedly started with the Fortnite gaming app in 2021 and later reportedly shifted to Valorant. He allegedly consistently texted children, attempting to gain their attention. The conversations would begin on a friendly note. He sometimes started by providing them with tips and tricks. They initially got in touch through the online platform ‘Discord’ before eventually conversing on the phone.
In Valorant, there is a map called Icebox. Khan allegedly manipulated children through the chat box and assisted them in winning that particular area. Teenagers who struggled to win in the game apparently became vulnerable to Khan’s tactics and that’s when he is said to have gained influence over these children to ‘impose his Islamic narrative’ on them.
According to reports, Khan has converted over 400 individuals in Maharashtra’s Mumbra alone.
Khan is believed to have capitalized on the addictive nature of battle games and the vulnerability of easily manipulable children. Individuals addicted to these gaming apps often engage in friendly conversations with strangers, providing an opportunity for individuals like Khan to identify potential targets.
Government to initiate a stern action against Gaming Jihad
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) also wrote to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) to initiate an enquiry against online gaming platform “Fortnite” and instant messaging social platform “Discord” for their alleged involvement in religious conversion of a minor boy in Ghaziabad.
“The Commission has come across a news article, wherein it has been informed that two men including a Caretaker of a Mosque in Ghaziabad and a man from Mumbai were involved in religious conversion of a minor boy through an online gaming platform, Fortnite,” said NCPCR’s Chairperson Priyank Kanoongo in a letter to Alkesh Kumar Sharma, Secretary, Meity.
The NCPCR further stated, “The need to incorporate an effective framework to bar minors from accessing prohibited websites along with punishments is of utmost importance for the Commission…It is further to be enquired about the availability of such alleged online gaming platform over Android and iOS interfaces or on any browser…the Commission in best interest of the children deems it appropriate to ensure that best efforts are made to monitor the framework of such online gaming applications with respect to the restriction of the minor children to these platforms.”
In light of these incidents, the Modi government is mulling a ban on hundreds of gaming and applications, namely addictive games, betting apps, and harmful games. The objective is to address the concerns surrounding these gaming applications and promote a safer gaming environment.