Indian model Poonam Pandey fakes cervical cancer death, AICWA demands FIR

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Indian model Poonam Pandey fakes cervical cancer death, AICWA demands FIR (Image: X/iPoonampandey)
Indian model Poonam Pandey fakes cervical cancer death, AICWA demands FIR (Image: X/iPoonampandey)

New Delhi : An Indian model, Poonam Pandey, has sparked online backlash after revealing she faked her death in an Instagram post to raise awareness about cervical cancer.

On Friday, a statement published on her social media claimed she "bravely fought the disease" and died. This fake announcement was met with swift criticism, calling it a "deceptive stunt."

Following the initial announcement, obituaries appeared in media outlets and her Wikipedia page was even updated to reflect her supposed death. Bollywood stars also posted mournful tributes. However, skepticism arose when footage of Pandey, seemingly healthy, aboard a boat in Goa surfaced, posted just four days before the announcement.

On Saturday, Pandey conceded the hoax in another Instagram video, stating, "Yes, I faked my demise, extreme I know. But suddenly we all are talking about cervical cancer, aren't we?" Despite her intention, many lambasted her actions. One commenter described it as "attention-seeking behavior," while another stated, "Engaging in a deceptive stunt ... under the guise of 'raising awareness' ... is not only unethical but also manipulative. Honestly shame on you for this stunt. Next time no one will take your real death seriously!"

Pandey, known for her outlandish stunts and risque behavior, began her modeling career in 2010. Famously, she pledged to strip for the Indian cricket team if they won the 2011 World Cup, later posting a video online showing her shedding clothes at the final stadium. Following this, she gained acting credits in Bollywood films, including the 2013 erotic thriller "Nasha."

India accounts for nearly a quarter of the world's cervical cancer cases, according to the World Health Organization, with over 200 women dying from the disease daily. Health campaigners urge the government to implement a national HPV vaccination campaign for young girls, proven to drastically reduce cervical cancer incidence in other countries.

In her Saturday Instagram post, Pandey shared a brief clip of a speech by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman highlighting the government's support for cervical cancer vaccination in the 2024 budget.

Following the controversy, the All Indian Cine Workers Association (AICWA) demanded an FIR against Pandey. Posting on X (formerly Twitter) Saturday, AICWA stated, "Using the guise of cervical cancer for self-promotion is not acceptable." On the same day, AICWA president Suresh Shyamlal Gupta issued a fresh statement condemning Pandey and requesting an FIR be filed against her.