“This is a bad morning for us,” her 1.3 million followers read on Instagram yesterday. “We are heartbroken to let you know that we have lost our beloved Poonam to cervical cancer.”
Even after fans and other Indian celebrities said they were in shock over her death, Pandey’s aides continued to repeat the message yesterday. The star is said to have “courageously fought the disease,” her manager said, according to British newspaper The Guardian.
Various media have now published her obituary, although more and more people have pointed out her posts on social media in recent weeks: she was seen in good health while taking a boat trip, among other things.
‘I’m not dead’
This morning the monkey came out of the bag. “I am not dead,” Pandey told her followers. “I did indeed fake my death. A bit extreme perhaps. But we are now all talking about cervical cancer.”
She says she is ‘proud’ of what her obituary has caused. “Cervical cancer, unlike other types of cancer, is absolutely preventable,” she also wrote. “The solution lies in the HPV vaccine and tests to detect the disease early.”
According to the World Health Organization, India has a quarter of all cervical cancer cases worldwide. More than two hundred women die every day in the country due to the disease. Several organizations are urging the Indian government to introduce a national vaccination program for young girls.