Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Monday, Nov 24, 2003

About Us
Contact Us
Metro Plus Delhi Published on Mondays & Thursdays

Features: Magazine | Literary Review | Life | Metro Plus | Open Page | Education | Book Review | Business | SciTech | Entertainment | Young World | Quest | Folio |

Metro Plus    Bangalore    Chennai    Coimbatore    Delhi    Hyderabad    Kochi    Madurai    Thiruvananthapuram    Visakhapatnam   

Printer Friendly Page Send this Article to a Friend

Face-to-face

In New Delhi this past week, BBC cameraman Fred Scott, winner of this year's Rory Peck Award for his hard-hitting camera shots of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, recounts to SANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY his side of the story.

`PLEASE DON'T ask me any political question. I am just a cameraman,' a smiling Fred Scott starts in with this opening line. Tired of eager Delhi journalists querying him about what he thinks of Bush and Blair in the aftermath of the recent U.S.-Iraq standoff, this BBC cameraman, the winner of the Rory Peck award for capturing on camera the conflict-triggered death and destruction in Northern Iraq, is visibly flagging.

Sitting in the New Delhi bureau of the BBC, this former South Asia cameraman is, nevertheless, keen on re-telling his action-packed ringside view of the face-off, which he says, "finally has a sanitising effect".

Beginning his tale, he says, "I was in the Kurdish area for three weeks, covering the war on our own, not embedded to any Army group." He zeroes in on the most eventful day of his 21 days of the war-shoot: "We were proceeding towards a bigger area that day. Taking care not to meet public hostility being White, we took help from the U.S. and Kurdish army convoys. The American soldiers were travelling with huge flags hanging from a tall antenna. The Kurdish army vehicle too had a big yellow banner, and ours also had `TV Camera' written in big letters in black on our car, just to avoid any assault. People were milling about as we passed. Suddenly a U.S. Special Forces' plane came zooming in."

Being accustomed to war coverage for the last 17 years - "I have covered almost all the conflicts in South Asia" - Fred goes on collectedly. "These planes are hardly 700 feet above the ground. With a shrill, thunderous sound, they become the first to tell you that a war is on. Despite the deafening sound of that U.S. Air Force plane, we continued. Taking all by shock, the plane out of the blue dropped a bomb on our convoy, killing at one go 17 of the 45 people travelling." Among those killed was the BBC's translator, Kamaran Addurazaq Muhamed.

Two weeks ago, Fred along with his colleague Darren Conway, who was embedded with the Royal Marines during the conflict, told the BBC audience this horrific story of "men screaming, blood dripping, barbecued bodies" in the programme "In Iraq: The Cameraman's Story". Experiencing the Gulf War, Taliban invasions, U.S. attack on Afghanistan, the war in Yugoslavia, Fred understandably exudes no overt sentiment while repeating this story of his, but just matter-of-fact reiteration of the actions.

And yet he adds, "The most eerie feeling comes when you see a country's capital changing hands. One bunch of pirates taking over from another." Fred accompanied the Taliban in their invasion of Kabul and also was "arrested by them many a times". A strong believer of "showing the appalling footage as it is on television without censoring it," the London-based lensman says in order to get the right perspective of the Iraq war, "one needs to do a lot of viewing".

He avers, "Al Jazeera had endless number of footage showing wounded babies lying in the hospital while FOX TV had not a single injured baby on screen. I think BBC did the most objective coverage."

Staying away from political queries all though the conversation, he turns opinionated at the end though. "The top two reasons for the war stand defeated. The weapons of mass destruction were not found and no Al Qaida top brass could not be nabbed." In Alabama, U.S., before coming to India, Fred says he met "farm boys turning soldiers there" and getting killed of course. "Bush will have to answer them," he puts in.

Well, did anyone mention, the U.S. Presidential election is next year?

Printer friendly page  
Send this article to Friends by E-Mail

Metro Plus    Bangalore    Chennai    Coimbatore    Delhi    Hyderabad    Kochi    Madurai    Thiruvananthapuram    Visakhapatnam   

Features: Magazine | Literary Review | Life | Metro Plus | Open Page | Education | Book Review | Business | SciTech | Entertainment | Young World | Quest | Folio |


The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | The Sportstar | Frontline | The Hindu eBooks | Home |

Comments to : thehindu@vsnl.com   Copyright 2003, The Hindu
Republication or redissemination of the contents of this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of The Hindu