FOUR children have died in India after copying stunts on a popular TV serial, in which a superhero leaps off high-rise buildings and jumps into fires to save other children.
The deaths have led to calls for the programmes to be banned and a wider debate about TV violence.
In the latest incident, two young children in Uttar Pradesh died two days after watching the superhero rescue children from a fire. Emulating the episode they set themselves on fire and waited in vain for their hero to rescue them.
So far neither the government nor the censor has reacted. But the producer said: "We have specially asked children not to try to emulate the character, since the stunts can be practised only after many years of training."
Television serials in India have often been censored on similar grounds.
Recently the plug was pulled on a soft-drink advertisement that showed the hero bungee jumping, because it was reported that children had died trying the same trick.