Amarnath pilgrims urinating in Dal Lake has outraged Kashmiris, but it has also made them introspect
It also gave Kashmiris and other netizens an opportunity to point out the gaps in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
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The image of Amarnath Yatris urinating on the banks of the Dal Lake has gone viral on social media.
Amarnath pilgrims pee at the banks of Dal Lake. Image: Twitter
Kashmiris have expressed pain at the disregard displayed by the yatris towards the Valley — the pilgrims chose to turn the lake’s banks into an open toilet. On Twitter and on Facebook, Kashmiris mocked the guests from mainland India who did not have the courtesy to ask the locals where they could access public toilets.
Mohammed Afaaq Sayeed, a Kashmiri businessman, lampooned the yatris for choosing the banks of Dal Lake for answering the call of nature. “Appavit’tritt’aa” being unloaded into the “Dal Pee’l of Kaashmir”, before proceeding towards the “Pavitar Gupha”, he wrote.
Afaaq also took a sweep at a woman using the drain beside the lake for defecation. He wrote, “Wait ... There is seemingly an ‘Abla Naari’ also doing her bit of nationalism besides a pavement behind the bus.”
Fahad Shah, founder-cum-editor of Kashmir Wallah, a local magazine, took a dig at the oft-quoted dictum that the yatra is a mainstay for Kashmir’s economy. He tweeted:
Basharat Ali, a Kashmiri scholar, responded to the picture this way: “Indian Tourists peeing at a ‘weed unloading point’ on the banks of the ‘World famous’ Dal lake in Kashmir.”
The photograph also gave Kashmiris and other netizens an opportunity to point out the gaps in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. They used the picture to argue that while the government had built so much hype around the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, it had not provided even the basic facilities which people could use so that they did not have to resort to open defecation.
Seema Mustafa, founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Citizen, a digital newspaper, had this to say about the photograph: “So much hype and basic arrangements for the toilets — a flagship of the govt — have not been made. Wow! And yes it’s true open defecation is a totally North Indian BIMARU-belt occurrence with the south also hesitant to follow suit.”
This disgusting act of the yatris was also decried by Sanjay Parva, a Kashmiri Pandit activist. Expressing deep dismay over the photograph, he wrote: “We have been welcoming Yatris cordially — they must not contaminate our natural resources. Yatris with such a mindset need to be condemned by one and all. This act of yours is deplorable, shameful and pathetic. You have brought immense disrepute to all those respected Yatris who rever this pilgrimage in the highest spirit. Open defecation is not a norm here but being ambassadors of your respective states, you are simply a blot on Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.”
While Kashmiri netizens were unequivocal in their condemnation of the yatris urinating at Dal Lake, many of them also urged one another to introspect on the issue. They said that the blame for the abject and deplorable condition of Dal Lake also lies with locals.
“You have raised a good issue and the act is deplorable. They have made a railway track of the Dal but to me your point will appear lopsided until you have an unbiased look around Srinagar city and see for yourself how and where it stinks. There are dumps of garbage everywhere, which also includes pee and potty (oops). Raising one’s voice against yatris is but natural (pun intended), but when will we learn to criticise ourselves and undo the damage that we have done to our soil?” one wrote.
Maajid Aslam Wafai, also from the Valley, was among those who urged fellow Kashmiris to consider the harm caused to the Dal Lake over decades. He wrote: “Why there is hue and cry with some liters of urine of pilgrims in our world famous Dal lake. We have sending millions of liters of sewage into the dal. But ironically there is no hue and cry.”
Many Kashmiris posted the photograph on Twitter, tagging the governor of Jammu and Kashmir, NN Vohra, and other senior bureaucrats of the state.
They urged the governor and the concerned bureaucrats to take suitable efforts so that the banks of Dal Lake are not used as an open urinal.