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The Selfie That Wasn’t: Media Wrongly Reports on NLU Girl’s Death

While newspapers wrote-off Pranita’s death as a failed selfie attempt, friends accuse them of sensationalisation.

Updated
India
3 min read
Pranita Mehta, a 21-year-old student of the National Law University, was swept into the sea by a strong tidal current in Gokarna.&nbsp;(Photo Courtesy: <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pranita.mehta.5?fref=ts">Facebook.com/PranitaMehta</a>)

In a tragic accident that took place on Sunday, Pranita Mehta, a 21-year-old student of the National Law University, was swept into the sea by a strong tidal current in Gokarna.

However, matters took an uglier turn when several leading Indian newspapers began attributing Pranita’s death to a selfie. Reported by media houses like The Times of India and The Hindu, the story of an alleged failed selfie attempt which ended in the mishap, soon went viral.



(Photo Courtesy: <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pranita.mehta.5?fref=ts">Facebook.com/PranitaMehta</a>)
(Photo Courtesy: Facebook.com/PranitaMehta)
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While images from Pranita’s social networking accounts were plastered all over the internet, the reckless attempt at a selfie became the established cause of her death.

However, soon enough,several of Pranita’s friends took to social media to point out the inaccuracy of the reports, which wrote off their friend’s death as a careless act.

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Vinayak Panikkar, a close friend of Pranita, posted a Facebook update calling the reports “incorrect, sensational, obnoxious and insensitive”.

In a telephone interview with The Quint, Panikkar said:

The FIR gives a correct account of what happened. It doesn’t mention anything about any selfie. The part about the selfie is concocted by the media houses to sensationalise the news and has hurt Pranita’s family and friends. Also, if Pranita had in fact fallen from a 300-foot light house, as the news articles claim, there would definitely be bodily injury and fractures. However, the post-mortem report says that the death was caused due to asphyxiation and there were no bodily injury or fractures.
Vinayak Panikar
Copy of the FIR provided to <b>The Quint </b>by Vinayak Panikkar.&nbsp;
Copy of the FIR provided to The Quint by Vinayak Panikkar. 

The FIR describes the entire incident of Pranita’s death and the people involved but makes no mention of a selfie.

Additionally, the autopsy report cites no injuries, which she would have surely incurred in a fall. Instead, it affirms that all of Pranita’s organs and limbs were “intact” and mentions only the “congestion” of lungs.

Copy of the post-mortem report provided to <b>The Quint </b>by Vinayak Panikkar.
Copy of the post-mortem report provided to The Quint by Vinayak Panikkar.
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Another of Pranita’s friends started a Reddit post titled ‘PranitaThrowaway’ and posted the details of the incident. The post reads as follows:

Not only are these claims uncorroborated, but also they are false and present a version of events which did not take place at all, which only shows the sheer lack of responsibility and ethics displayed by the news channels and media houses concerned.
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Another friend commented on the manner in which facts about Pranita’s death were being distorted and said that any apology or correction “may or may not be meaningless”.

(Photo: <a href="https://www.facebook.com/akarshi.jain.3?fref=ts">Facebook/AkarshiJain</a>)
(Photo: Facebook/AkarshiJain)

While some news portals retracted their stories, others are yet to take any action.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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