A public interest litigation has been filed against Pokemon Go, a location-based augmented reality game developed by American software development company Niantic Inc, for allegedly hurting the sentiments of Hindu and Jain communities by offering virtual eggs to winners in temple compounds.
Petitioner Alay Anil Dave has alleged that Pokemon makes its players enter temples and derasars (Jain worship place) to get points and win the game. Winners are offered eggs (virtually) as points when they achieve the targets. But offering eggs inside a religious worship place of Jains or Hindus is ‘blasphemous’, according to Dave. Dave said that it is unacceptable to offer a non-vegetarian food inside Jain and Hindu temples, even if it is in a virtual way. The petitioner claims that both the religions propagate the idea of ‘non-violence’ and ‘vegetarianism’, and cannot agree with such practices.
The petitioner also expressed his concerns about the security of the players. He demanded an immediate ban of the game in our country.
Pokemon is facing the second PIL seeking its ban in India. An earlier petition had sought its ban in India as it had not been officially released here.
Pokemon Go is one of the most used mobile apps in 2016, having been downloaded by more than 130 million people worldwide. It was credited with popularising location-based and augmented reality gaming, promoting physical activity, and helping local businesses grow. The game was referred to as a “social media phenomenon” by the media, as 231 million people engaged in 1.1 billion interactions that mentioned Pokémon Go on Facebook and Instagram in the month of July.
The app was criticised for using locations such as cemeteries and memorials as sites to catch Pokémon, including the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, Arlington National Cemetery, the ANZAC War Memorial, and Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Niantic later removed content from sensitive areas such as the Hiroshima Memorial and Holocaust Museum. The game sparked complaints from Dutch company ProRail, who said that players entered their railway tracks, and fire stations told players to not impede their staff by congregating outside.
Police departments in various countries have issued warnings, regarding inattentive driving, trespassing, and being targeted by criminals due to being unaware of one’s surroundings. Iran authorities recently banned the game in their country due to ‘unspecified’ security reasons.