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Online Gaming Nightmare: Ghaziabad Police Expose Conversion Racket Targeting Teens



Online Gaming Nightmare Ghaziabad Police Expose Conversion Racket Targeting Teens

GHAZIABAD: The Ghaziabad police have made a significant breakthrough by dismantling an online conversion racket and exposing an alarming modus operandi that involves using online games to lure unsuspecting victims. The police arrested a man, operating in collaboration with an individual based in Mumbai, for running this syndicate.

According to the Ghaziabad police, the accused individuals targeted children and teenagers through an online gaming app, enticing them to convert to Islam. The arrest of a Maulvi from a mosque in the Sanjay Nagar area of Ghaziabad sheds light on this disturbing practice, while a man from Thane in Maharashtra, the second accused, is still at large.

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Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Nipun Agarwal revealed, “On May 30, a case of religious conversion was registered at Kavi Nagar Police Station, naming Shahnawaz Khan alias Baddo, a resident of Thane, Maharashtra, and Nanni alias Abdul Rehman, a Maulvi at a mosque in Sanjay Nagar. Rehman has been apprehended, and during the investigation, his involvement in the conversion of a minor Jain boy and two Hindu boys was discovered. Electronic evidence and affidavits related to the case have been seized.”

The perpetrators utilized a sinister approach to manipulate their teenage targets. They would entice them with an online game that required recitation of Quranic verses to win. Additionally, the victims were exposed to videos featuring radical Muslim preachers Zakir Naik and Tariq Jameel. Zakir Naik, a notorious figure facing numerous charges of money laundering and spreading hatred, fled the country in 2016.

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“The accused communicated with the young gamers through a chat application, where they were shown videos of Zakir Naik and Tariq Jameel to persuade them to convert,” explained DCP Ghaziabad City.

While the recent incident in Ghaziabad has shed light on this unsettling modus operandi, similar tactics have also been observed in cases of human trafficking.

The alarming rise in such incidents highlights the urgent need for stricter regulations to combat these digital threats. Authorities must consider implementing laws or systems requiring government-issued IDs to create social media accounts, ensuring verification of users’ identities. Addressing the issue of catfishing, commonly associated with online dating, specific legislation is necessary.

Religious conversion through online games often begins with the same deceptive techniques employed in catfishing. Many apps allow users to sign in through existing profiles such as Facebook and Gmail, which do not provide any verification of the person behind the profile. Perpetrators create profiles on popular gaming apps and select targets based on their behavior, often choosing impressionable young adults who spend significant time on gaming apps and are open to interacting with strangers.

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After initiating casual conversations related to the game, the miscreants gain the trust of their targets by sharing winning strategies, cheat codes, and claiming to have foolproof methods to achieve success. As relationships develop within the game through team formations and adding friends, perpetrators encourage communication via messaging apps like WhatsApp. Group chats are established to coordinate gaming sessions, eventually resembling regular social groups where participants share various content, including vulgar jokes, pirated media, and extremist material.

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Once contact information is exchanged, the perpetrators exploit one-on-one conversations to gauge the targets’ family dynamics. If the parents are perceived as uninvolved or overprotective, the miscreants continue their manipulation. Gradually, discussions veer toward violence, glory, and the importance of religious piety, often accompanied by fabricated stories of personal tragedies involving the miscreant’s acquaintances. The conversation is steered towards contentious topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict, presenting biased narratives and promoting a particular religion as the sole path to heaven. Through a systematic process, the targeted children are exposed to content that distorts their perception of reality.

As the Ghaziabad police continue their pursuit of the accused Shahnawaz Khan, it is imperative to raise awareness about the dangers lurking in online gaming and take proactive measures to safeguard vulnerable individuals, especially children and teenagers.

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