A seven-year-old girl from Karnataka’s Davangere area died after setting herself on fire while trying to enact a scene from a TV show.
On November 11, 7-year-old Prarthana Manjunath was watching a Kannada TV show – Nandini at her home in Davangere’s Harihara town.
Prarthana’s mother Chaitra says that her daughter was hooked to this horror-thriller show and would watch it religiously.
“Prarthana was at home with her 6-year-old sister Purvi. My mother was looking after them. But at 1.00 pm, she went to pick up my son Pruthvi from school. I had gone out to work and I was not at home. Prarthana took some waste paper lying at home. She has set it on fire and tried to dance in the middle of the fire just like the scene from the TV show. Her clothes caught fire and she was set ablaze,” Chairta said.
Startled by Prarthana’s screams, 6-year-old Purvi rushed to help her. She immediately alerted her neighbour Mahantesh, who tried to extinguish the fire.
By the time an ambulance arrived, Prarthana’s grandmother Daksyayini had arrived. She took Prarthana to the Harihara Government Hospital. As the doctors could not treat her there, she was shifted to the Davangere District Hospital.
Prarthana had suffered 70% burns on her arms, legs and torso. The doctors at the district hospital advised Prarthana’s parents to transfer her to a private hospital as they did not have enough facilities to treat the girl.
At around 2.00 pm on November 11, Prarthana was rushed to the Shamanur Shivashankarappa Hospital, a private hospital, where her treatment began.
“I work as a domestic help and by the time I return from work, it is around 2.30 pm. That day, I had left my phone at home. I returned to find that my daughter was injured. My husband and mother were already at the private hospital. The doctors said that plastic surgery would ensure my daughter’s survival but nothing happened,” Chaitra recounts.
After Chaitra arrived at the hospital, Prarthana, who was in severe pain, told her that she was only trying to enact the scene from the TV show.
“She told me that she only wanted to play. My other daughter Purvi told me that Prarthana had asked her to join her. Purvi was scared and she refused. I have lost my daughter but I want other parents to be careful. Please do not allow children to watch TV shows which may impact them adversely,” she added.
On November 12, Prarthana, who was in the ICU, succumbed to her injuries. Her father, Manjunath alleges that the hospital staff did not let them take her body until they had paid the bill.
“I am a daily wage worker and my wife works as a domestic help. We did not have so much money for the treatment. Suddenly, we were asked to pay tens of thousands of rupees and we did not know what to do. I had to take so many loans from people I knew to get my daughter’s body,” Manjunath said.
On November 29, Chaitra wrote a letter to the Davangere district administration, requesting it to create awareness about the adverse impact of TV shows on children.
“There are so many children who have lost their lives because of a few TV shows. I still remember when so many children had died watching Shaktiman. My daughter was watching a show which also had a similar impact. I only want the government to create more awareness and ensure that other children do not suffer the same way,” Chaitra said.
According to a TOI report, former Karnataka Television Association President Ravi Kiran called the incident sad and unfortunate.
“It is sad that such an incident has happened. We usually put disclaimers in each episode of TV serials but these have no effect. The makers of these serials do not have any bad intentions. Some elements are introduced to make the plot more engaging and gripping,” Ravi Kiran told the daily.