PRAHAR, an NGO has urged the government to block the Chinese gaming app BGMI-PUBG and add it to the list of 54 Chinese apps banned on February 14, 2022 saying its omission in the list is a "clear lapse in judgement on part of the Government".
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) affiliated Swadeshi Jagran Manch has supported this initiative by Prahar and has called for an investigation into the antecedents and China influence of BGMI-PUBG.
PUBG mobile was banned by the Government of India on September 2, 2020. Within ten months, it was relaunched as Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI). BGMI is the biggest among the chinese apps that relaunched and rebranded with the same features and have managed to circumvent scrutiny.
Ashwani Mahajan, National Co-Convener, Swadeshi Jagaran Manch said, "We congratulate the Government on their decision to ban another 54 Chinese apps in India recently. This is in line with the ongoing demand from people of India to boycott all kinds of Chinese goods. Also, in today's data centric world, maintaining technology integrity is extremely important to protect the sovereignty of India, security of the state and defence of India. We urge the Government to thoroughly investigate the antecedents and China influence of the BGMI-PUBG app and take immediate action if found in violation".
The letter written by Abhay Mishra, National Convenor and President, PRAHAR, said, "Tencent Holdings Limited had launched PUBG in India, and it was one of the most downloaded games at the time of its ban in 2020. In less than a year, PUBG was re-introduced in India by a front company of Tencent - Krafton under the new name BGMI - a move that was clearly meant to circumvent the Indian policymakers."
It further added "On paper, Tencent is the second largest shareholder of Krafton with 15.5 per cent stocks. However, it is said that Tencent holds additional interests in promoter's various businesses, through private deals hidden from the public, giving them extraordinary control on Krafton. Most global media also refer to Krafton as "Tencent backed Krafton".
In its IPO prospectus too, Krafton acknowledged its strategic partnership with Tencent, and the two companies together fought and won lawsuits in federal courts in the US and Germany in January 2022."
The letter continues "Free Fire was another gaming app that was banned on February 14. Since Tencent also holds 18.7 per cent share in Free Fire, it raises a basic question: if Free Fire was banned, why was BGMI PUBG exempted?"
The letter concludes: "Since the government does not have a mechanism or the machinery to closely track the movements of companies like Tencent, banning apps like Chinese BGMI PUBG is in the interest of both the country and its people. We therefore request your ministry to include Chinese app BGMI-PUBG among the list of banned apps in India under Section the IT Act in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the state, and public order and save millions of unsuspecting players from falling prey into the Chinese trap."