This Republic Day, British reality TV star Bear Grylls posted a Tricolour on one of his social media handles and wrote to his followers: “And it is a GREAT day in India! Am coming there soon to shoot something very special…”, followed by a ‘Shh’ emoji.
The post was later deleted, and the presenter has since been unusually coy about his Indian assignment. Around February 14, the day of the terrorist attack in Pulwama, Grylls was in Dhikala in the Jim Corbett tiger reserve in Uttarakhand, his social media trail shows. That day, the Uttarakhand Forest Department had cancelled all tourist bookings for the Dhikala forest rest house because of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the state.
Grylls’ office in the United Kingdom did not respond to queries from The Sunday Express on his assignments in India. Top Uttarakhand Forest Department officials declined to confirm whether a film crew was allowed inside the Corbett tiger reserve on February 14. Nobody can film inside protected protests without permission from the state Chief Wildlife Warden. Read in Malayalam
On February 12, Grylls posted a selfie apparently taken on board his flight to India: “On my way for an adventure in a country I love…” This post, too, was later deleted.
Then, an Instagram page of his fan club put up a clip and five photos of him shooting with his crew on February 13 at a makeshift helipad in Uttarakhand, and posing with a fan on February 14 at the Dhikala forest rest house campus.
One fan tweeted a selfie with Grylls on his way to Uttarakhand at Delhi’s Rohini heliport on February 13; another shared the information that he would be back in Delhi on February 15.
On February 19, Grylls retweeted a group photo taken “last week” with officials and members of the Bharat Scouts and Guides (BSG) in Delhi.
Asked about Grylls’s visit, BSG Chief National Commissioner Dr K K Khandelwal said: “Grylls was in India to call on the Prime Minister. As the chief ambassador of the global scouts movement, he spends time with the scouts whenever he visits a country. So BSG held a function at the JW Marriott hotel where Grylls met our young scouts on February 15, the day after he met the Prime Minister. We held the event close to the airport, instead of in our Delhi office, to save time.”
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Today is International Volunteering Day – and as Chief Ambassador for @worldscouting and UK Chief Scout @scouts I have learnt one definitive truth: heroes volunteer! Such as Scout @ehsan_smile who sums his three favourite things about Scouting up like this: ✔️ serve other without any discrimination ✔️ love your work ✔️ always share smile
Edward Michael Grylls, aka Bear Grylls, is the presenter of popular survival shows including Man vs Wild on Discovery channel. In 2016, he filmed the then US President Barack Obama in Alaska for another popular show, Running Wild. Early this year, he came under the scanner in Bulgaria for gutting and boiling a frog on camera during a shoot inside the Rila National Park in 2017.
Discovery Communications India did not respond to emails, calls and messages from The Sunday Express on whether Grylls had been shooting in India for the channel.
On February 16, Grylls replied to @PMOIndia’s February 15 tweet about the PM paying homage to the Pulwama victims. “A truly tragic day — my heart goes out to you India,” he posted on Twitter, with emoticons of a heart and folded hands.