Mumbai, Feb 3: “I am here, alive. Cervical cancer didn’t claim me,” Poonam Pandey said on Saturday, a day after the news of her death from the disease dominated the news cycle and led to intense debate on social media.
It turns out the news of her death was fake, a stunt pulled off by the actor and her team to spread “critical awareness” about cervical cancer.
While many media houses went ahead with the news, PTI in its reporting never confirmed the death.
In a video, posted on her official Instagram page, Pandey said, “I feel compelled to share something significant with you all – I am here, alive.” “Cervical cancer didn’t claim me, but tragically, it has claimed the lives of thousands of women who stemmed from a lack of knowledge on how to tackle this disease,” the 32-year-old added.
Pandey claimed that she wanted to spread awareness about the disease.
“Unlike some other cancers, Cervical cancer is entirely preventable. The key lies in the HPV vaccine and early detection tests. We have the means to ensure no one loses their life to this disease…
“Let’s empower one another with critical awareness and ensure every woman is informed about the steps to take. Together, let’s strive to put an end to the devastating impact of the disease and bring #DeathToCervicalCancer,” she wrote.
On Friday, the actor’s team made the shock announcement on Instagram that Pandey, a model, influencer and sometime actor known for her bold statements and appearances, had died of cervical cancer.
When contacted for the confirmation of the death, the actor’s publicist said she died in her hometown but was not forthcoming with details about her battle with the disease as well as when and where she passed away.
Pandey is not new to such publicity stunts. She hit the headlines in 2011 by declaring that she would strip if India won the cricket World Cup.
The post on her Instagram page on Friday read, “Deeply saddened to inform you that we have lost our beloved Poonam to cervical cancer. Every living form that ever came in contact with her was met with pure love and kindness.” “In this time of grief, we would request for privacy while we remember her fondly for all that we shared,” the statement read.
The doubts began soon after with several Instagram followers saying the news could well be fake because she was last seen only three days ago in Goa and frequently before that as well.
Some also questioned the timing of the news of her death as it came a day after Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the government’s plans to focus on vaccination against cervical cancer for girls aged 9 to 14 as part of her interim Budget 2024.
Later in the day, PR agency Picture N Kraft released a statement, saying, “This is to place on record that we have received a call from her family member this morning regarding her sudden demise (as posted on her official Insta id). We are waiting for further information.” Her death was condoled by her “Lock Upp” co-contestant Faruqui and host Kangana Ranaut.
Pandey, who made her Bollywood debut in 2013 with “Nasha”, also featured in little known films such as “Love Poison”, “Malini & Co” and “Aa Gaya Hero”. She also participated in two popular reality shows, “Fear Factor: Khatron Ke Khiladi 4” in 2011 and “Lock Upp” in 2022.
In November 2020, she and her husband were arrested for shooting an objectionable video and allegedly trespassing on government property in Goa.
Before that, in May 2020, she was booked for violating Covid norms in Mumbai.
Cervical cancer is the second most common in women in India and makes up for close to 18 per cent of the new cancer cases, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), WHO’s cancer agency.
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