The craze for a selfie turned fatal for a youth in the Uttarakhand capital when he slipped into a canal and drowned while a similar attempt killed a young holidaymaker as he fell from the high ramparts of Jodhpur’s Mehrangarh Fort.
The incidents happened close on the heels of two young cousins drowning in the Narmada in Madhya Pradesh, adding to a growing number of selfie deaths in a country that accounted for half of the world’s fatalities from the new fad in 2015.
A police officer said Devendra Kandari, son of a rickshaw driver, and Shubham who works in a restaurant had gone to Shaktinahar canal, around 40km from Dehradun, and allegedly drank alcohol there.
“After a while Devendra tried to take a selfie but he lost balance and fell into the canal. Shubham immediately jumped in to rescue his friend. But both were swept away by strong currents. Two onlookers then dived into the canal and managed to save Devendra,” Vikasanagar circle officer Swapna Kumar Singh said on Wednesday.
“The body of the youth id yet to be traced,” the officer informed. “Empty alcohol bottles were recovered from the spot.”
The incident is reminiscent of man drowning in the Arabian Sea on January 9 when he tried to save three girls who slipped into the water while clicking a selfie. Mumbai police have banned selfies in 16 spots identified as dangerous.
In Rajasthan’s Jodhpur city, police said 23-year-old Nikhil Prajapat who was to get married in 10 days had gone to the city’s landmark fort with his friends and lost his footing on the edge of the rampart while trying to take a selfie with his mobile phone.
“Nikhil climbed the rampart to click a picture despite his friends stopping him. He fell several feet down. He was taken to Mahatma Gandhi hospital where doctors declared him dead on arrival,” an officer said.
Nikhil, who worked at an auto-electric shop, was on leave for his wedding.
Sounding an alarm, a recent report on such deaths around the world and published in the Washington Post, said out of at least 27 “selfie-related” deaths in 2015, about half were reported in India.
A Japanese tourist had died at the Taj Mahal recently after falling off the steps of the monument while attempting a selfie.
Experts told Hindustan Times that selfies have become a dangerous attention-seeking activity for the youth. “Youngsters between 18 and 22 are increasingly trying to find their self-esteem and self-worth in the likes and comments they get on selfies posted on social media platforms,” psychiatrist Vaibhav Dubey of People’s Hospital in Bhopal said.
He said the craze “gradually turns into a mental disorder and in extreme cases, pushes them to their death”.
(With inputs from agencies and HTC, Bhopal)