A 15-year-old girl visited 10 cities in 18 days after she went missing from her home in Udham Singh Nagar district, Uttarakhand, allegedly under the influence of a mobile game called Taxi Driver-2, police said on Friday.
The girl was spotted in Kamla Market area of Delhi on Thursday by Delhi police after she had a tiff with a rickshaw driver. The Delhi Police got in touch with US Nagar police, and brought her to Pant Nagar on Friday morning, police officials said.
“The girl was reported missing since July 1 from her house in Pant Nagar area in US Nagar district. She was finally traced by the Delhi police at Kamla Market,” said Barinderjit Singh, senior superintendent of police, US Nagar. Singh claimed the girl went missing after “playing a mobile game called Taxi Driver-2 (a South Korean game) on her mother’s mobile phone.”
Singh said the Delhi Police contacted him after the girl revealed that she had fled from her home in Pant Nagar on July 1. “The (US Nagar police) team brought her back and handed her over safely to her parents, on Saturday morning,” said Singh.
Investigation officer, sub-inspector Vipul Joshi, who questioned the girl said, “She had downloaded the mobile game on her mother’s mobile phone during summer vacations, since she doesn’t have her own mobile phone.”
Joshi said that the girl told him that she was “deeply involved” in the game and after completing all the stages, decided to play the role of the game’s character (a taxi driver, who visits different places) in real life.
“In the game, the taxi driver picks up passengers from various places and drops them at different locations by overcoming various obstacles. She wanted to play the character in real life by visiting different cities in the country without staying at one place,” said Joshi.
As per plan, Joshi said the girl allegedly stole about Rs 12,000 from her home and left for Kichha town in Uttarakhand, from where she boarded a bus for Bareilly (in Uttar Pradesh).”
“From there she again boarded a bus for Lucknow only to leave for Jaipur. She then visited Udaipur, Jodhpur, Ahmedabad and Pune in different buses,” Joshi said.
She returned to Jaipur from Pune only to leave for Delhi which she visited thrice during her 18-day journey. “From Delhi, she came to Rishikesh and returned to Delhi. She again went to Rishikesh and Haridwar and then came back to Delhi for one last time when she was spotted by the police,” he said, quoting the girl.
During investigation into the missing person complaint lodged by her parents, Joshi said, the police was able to track her location in Jaipur where she had given the email-id of her elder brother to book a bus ticket. “We reached Jaipur eight hours after she had left,” he said.
The girl told Joshi that as she was not able to get a hotel without an identity card, she used to board sleeper buses for night journeys to sleep. “In these 18 days, the girl claimed to have survived on chips, biscuits and water and didn’t take a bath,” he said.
Her father, who works in a local school said, “When she was using her mother’s mobile phone, we didn’t know what she was doing. We are fortunate that she is back with us without any harm.”
He added, “I would like to suggest to parents to keep an eye on mobile usage by their children and if possible allow them access to it only after a certain age or after they complete their schooling.”
Dehradun based cyber-expert Hemraj Singh Chauhan said mobile phone addiction among children was an increasing ‘social problem.’
“It is a problem in which the government can’t do much, but the parents should stop giving smartphones to their children and if necessary they should give them basic phones,” he said.