NEW DELHI (AFP) – An Indian television journalist reporting on the deadly floods that have swept northern India defended his decision on Tuesday to file a report while perched on a survivor's shoulders.
Narayan Pargaien, who works for the local News Express channel, told Indian media website newslaundry.com that the criticism he has faced since the video was posted online was unfair.
"People are talking about us being inhuman and wrong but we were actually helping some of the victims there," Pargaien said.
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.
The man "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... between which, I thought of reporting", Pargaien said.
The journalist also attacked his cameraman for framing the shot so it showed him sitting on the floods survivor's shoulders and accused him of posting the video online.
"The report was supposed to be telecast only with footage of me chest-up. This was entirely the cameraman's fault, who... tried to sabotage my career by shooting from that distance and angle and releasing the video," he said.
"I was wrong as well. That was the wrong thing to do, and the wrong time to have shot that sequence. But what my cameraman did was even more unacceptable."
The video, which has been viewed more than 11,600 times since it was posted Saturday can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ieiuctQh01k
Some 1,000 people have died in flash floods and landslides caused by heavy downpours in India's Uttarakhand state, known as the "Land of the Gods" for its revered Hindu shrines.
Helicopters and soldiers have evacuated tens of thousands of people, but several thousand pilgrims and tourists remain stranded throughout the state since early rains struck on June 15.