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Indian TV reporter defends decision to do live piece to camera from shoulders of recently rescued Uttarakhand flood victim


One could, if one were being utterly charitable to Narayan Pargaien, assume the Indian television reporter was trying to use his initiative.

After all, no sensible journalist on a long, tough assignment such as covering a flood, wants to get soaking wet themselves. So if there’s someone willing to carry you into the water, to enable your cameraman to get that all important “context shot”, then perhaps it’s OK. Perhaps.

But Mr Pargaien has found himself at the centre of mounting criticism after it emerged that the person on whose shoulders he sat to do a “live” to the camera was himself a victim of the floods who had only recently been rescued.

The clip of the report by the journalist from the News Express channel has been doing the rounds on social media, where he has attracted scathing criticism for his alleged insensitivity.

The reporter, who has 17 or 18 years experience, has defended his actions, saying that the man carrying him was happy to do so and even blaming his cameraman for shooting the clip from a wide angle and then uploading it onto the internet. He even paid him 50 rupees.

“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, who declined to identify his helper, told the Newslaundry website.

He added: “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. So while crossing the river he offered to help by carrying me on his shoulder.”

Floods caused by massive, early monsoon rains have caused huge devastation in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, washing away roads and villages and leaving thousands of religious pilgrims stranded. More than 1,000 people are believed to have perished and thousands are still struck.

On Tuesday, an Indian Air Force helicopter returning from a rescue mission hit the side of a mountain and fell into a river, killing eight people.

Mr Paragien said the criticism he has encountered was unfair, though he acknowledged on reflection that the decision to perch on the man’s shoulders was incorrect wrong.

“I don’t think they are all fair. On the one hand what I did was journalistically wrong, but how it’s being portrayed now on Youtube and Facebook, like a joke, doesn’t feel like it’s fair,” he said.

He added: “Also the report was supposed to be telecast only with footage of me chest-up. This 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.”