26 Jun 2013

Indian TV journalist reports flood from victim’s shoulders

An Indian journalist is criticised for appearing on television reporting from a disaster zone while sitting on the shoulders of one of the flood victims.

Narayan Pargaien was in the state of Uttarakhand reporting on floods which have devastated the region when he made his broadcast for News Express.

The reporter claimed that the slight man who carried him, who can be seen wobbling under the strain while standing in ankle-high water, had hoisted him onto his shoulders as a sign of respect.

A video of Mr Pargaien reporting on the floods swept the internet when it was posted to YouTube earlier this month, with many Indian web users criticising him for apparently using a disaster victim to keep his feet dry.

In an interview Mr Pargaien, who has nearly two decades of reporting experience, admitted that he was wrong to file the report, but said that he only sat on the man’s shoulders after the victim had invited him to do so.

He also blamed his cameraman for revealing the bizarre arrangement, claiming that he had been told he would only be filmed from the waist up.

“It wasn’t my idea to begin with, but there was this man who took me to his home and asked me to report the damage he had suffered,”Mr Pargaien told News Laundry.

‘Wanted to show me some respect’

“His house was in a miserable condition and he had lost a lot in the flood, and was left with very little food and water.

“We helped him with some food and some money and he was grateful to us and wanted to show me some respect, as it was the first time someone of my level had visited his house.’

The reporter added that he had paid the man, whom he refused to name, 50 rupees (55p) for his troubles.

The video has been viewed more than 11,600 times since it was posted on Saturday.

He admitted that his actions were “journalistically wrong”, adding that he had “no problem getting my feet wet”.

But Mr Pargaien appeared keen to pass blame on to his cameraman for allowing the footage to come to light, saying the report was supposed to be shown “only with footage of me chest-up”.

He continued: “his was entirely the cameraman’s fault, who, it seems, almost tried to sabotage my career by shooting from that distance and angle and releasing the video mocking this whole incident, and making me the villain.”

Around 1,000 people have died in flash floods and landslides caused by heavy downpours in Uttarakhand state, known as the “Land of the Gods” for its revered Hindu shrines.