Kashmiri Shikara owners take stand: ‘Drinking not allowed’ signs dot Dal Lake

Shikara drivers in the Kashmir Valley are in shock and have expressed concern following a viral video depicting an incident of public drinking. Prompted by the video’s circulation, law enforcement swiftly intervened, arresting two individuals involved.

Days after Aga Hadi Kashmiri, a Kashmiri cleric raised alarm over the incident, Shikara owners have put signboards across the world famous Dal lake to announce that drinking is not allowed inside the Shikaras.

“Kashmir is a Muslim majority state and such activities cannot be tolerated in the valley. The law cannot be different for different places,” Hadi said in reference to the slaughter of animals at various places across India.

Referring to the incident of the pubic drinking inside a Shikara in Srinagar, Aga said the Kashmiri society, in union, condemns such acts that are intended to hurt our religious sentiments.

Shikara is a type of wooden boat found in the Kashmir region. These boats are traditionally used for transportation and leisure activities on the lakes and rivers of Kashmir, particularly on Dal Lake in Srinagar.

“We do not allow or promote such activities, however, some of the Shikara drivers have allowed this activity, but the viral video has made us conscious. This has forced us to put boards across the lake asking people to desist from immoral activities,” said Mohammed Lateef, a Shikara driver.

He said that Shikara drivers cannot be singled out, the overall immorality and crime rate is increasing in Kashmir. “If tourists want to drink, they can go inside their hotel rooms and drink there Public drinking shall not be endorsed. Those accused must be punished severely,” he said.

Shikara drivers, he said, have installed boards around the lake requesting tourists to not drink around the lake and asked tourists to not pollute the Srinagar’s famous lake.

“Drinking of alcohol is strictly prohibited in Shikara. Do not put garbage in the lake,” reads a board installed at Ghat number 14 of Dal Lake.

The Jammu Kashmir Police have swung into action and registered a case under the section 295 A (hurting religious sentiments) vide the FIR number 83/ 2024 at Police Station Ram Munshibagh of Srinagar.

“Two accused persons have been arrested while more suspects are being questioned. Further investigation into the matter is going on,” Srinagar police informed on Microblogging site X.

The tweet further added, “Srinagar Police has taken cognizance after a video of unidentified individuals indulging in offensive behaviour in a shikara in Dal Lake in an inebriated state went viral across social media platforms.”

The incident has triggered sorrow and anger among Kashmiris with many political parties condemning the incident. Social media users across social media platforms condemned the incident.

“Dal Lake isn’t just a tourist attraction. Kashmiris share a pious and intimate relationship with it. It has been our steadfast companion through years of turbulence. It knows our stories, secrets, and sorrows. Such vulgar and shameful incidents only disrespect our feelings,” Sagarika Kissu, a Kashmiri Pandit wrote.