NEW DELHI – An Indian television journalist who reported on deadly floods while perched on a survivor’s shoulders has been fired, the head of the channel said Wednesday.
“What he did was very inhuman. You cannot ride on someone’s back for a story. We terminated him on Tuesday,” said Nishant Chaturvedi, channel head at News Express.
Narayan Pargaien, reporting on the flash floods and landslides in Uttarakhand state in the north, triggered outrage after a video clip went viral on the Internet showing him speaking into the camera while sitting on the shoulders of a local villager.
The reporter claimed that the survivor, 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,” Pargaien said in an interview to Indian media website newslaundry.com on Tuesday. “So while crossing the river, he offered to help by carrying me . . . between which, I thought of reporting.”
Chaturvedi said the channel did not broadcast the clip because it found it “highly distasteful.”
“He sent the clip to us. We were shocked to see him sitting on the poor man. You have to be a part of the people, and not ride on them,” he said.
Chaturvedi said the channel was investigating who uploaded the video onto YouTube, although the reporter claimed it had been posted online by the cameraman who filmed it. Pargaien was summoned to the channel’s office to enable him to present his side of the story.
“He said he thought he could do this. But then it means he did not use his basic sense of judgment as a human being,” Chaturvedi said.
Some 1,000 people have died in flash floods and landslides in Uttarakhand state, known as the “Land of the Gods” for its revered Hindu shrines.
The channel is planning to post the video on its own website to stress that it did not endorse the reporter’s conduct.