Chennai kid tries martial arts stunt for Vijay’s birthday, sustains burn injuries

It is unclear at present why such an event took place contrary to the actor’s public stance to avoid celebrations for his birthday as a mark of respect to the Kallakurichi liquor tragedy victims.
Chennai kid tries martial arts stunt for Vijay’s birthday, sustains burn injuries

An 11-year-old boy’s attempt at a martial arts stunt using fire nearly turned deadly in Chennai’s Neelankarai neighbourhood on Saturday, June 22. At an event celebrating actor-politician Vijay’s birthday, the boy attempted a dangerous stunt that involved breaking a set of tiles with his hand on fire. After the boy was unable to douse the fire and panicked, the fire quickly spread on stage, injuring him and leading to a stampede for the exit. 

Speaking to TNM, the Sub Inspector (SI) Balu of Neelankarai J8 police station said that the boy had sustained 3% to 5% burns on his right hand. However, he added that the event organisers would not face any action at the request of the child’s family.

Though such martial arts techniques are a common practice, they are normally attempted in a controlled and safe environment with professionals present. 

In the visuals, the boy can be seen holding his fist ready above the tiles. A man standing to his side flicks a cigarette lighter beneath the boy’s fist, which police told TNM had been drenched in fuel beforehand. 

In the visuals, after he breaks the tiles, the boy can be seen blowing on his fist, but this fans the flame higher. The boy then panics and runs about in fear. The visuals also show that the man with the lighter is holding an open plastic bottle of what police have confirmed was petrol the whole time. When he heedlessly moves forward to help, the fuel in the bottle can be seen to also catch fire as it pours out, almost onto the boy. 

From the immediate chaos that ensues, it appears as if the organisers failed to take necessary precautions before allowing a child to attempt such a stunt. As petrol fires cannot be extinguished with water, it is ideal to have the appropriate foam extinguishers, sand and blankets on hand—all of which cut the flames’ oxygen access. In the visuals, several adults gather around the screaming boy while one man struggles with a small extinguisher. 

The incident occurred at Chennai’s Suganya Wedding Hall in Neelankarai, police said. Also, it may be noted that the event was conducted despite the actor asking his fans and Tamila Vetri Kazhgagam (TVK) cadres not to celebrate his fiftieth birthday as a mark of respect to the more than fifty people who lost their lives in the horrific Kallakurichi illicit liquor tragedy. It is unclear why such an event took place contrary to the actor’s public stance asking to avoid celebrations.  So far, neither Vijay nor TVK have made an official statement regarding the fire accident.

Earlier, on June 20, Vijay had visited the survivors of the Kalakurichi tragedy who were still in hospital before offering his condolences at the homes of the bereaved. 

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