Why villagers of Aamno did not want scribe to click Pyare Lal's photo

Story by  ATV | Posted by  Aasha Khosa | Date 27-02-2024
Pyare Lal after he was given a shave and a bath and wore a new phiren (X)
Pyare Lal after he was given a shave and a bath and wore a new phiren (X)


New Delhi

Why is the story of Pyare Lal, an octogenarian living alone in his house in a South Kashmir village, moving netizens and the government authorities in Kashmir alike?

His story turned out to be one of compassion and innate humanity of the people of Kashmir including the well-known IAS officer Athar Amir Khan in helping the elderly Kashmiri Pandit relive a life of dignity.

Pyare Lal has been living alone in his once grandiose house in Aamno village of Kulgam district for three decades. He was found living in subhuman conditions in his now dilapidated house by a citizen journalist, Tanveer Ahmad. Tanveer posted his video on social media and it sparked a chain of human reactions everyone asking the other to help him.

The 0-year-old Pyare Lal lived with his parents at the time of the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley more than 30 years ago. After his parents died and since he was not married, he was left alone.

Umesh Talashi, a Kashmiri Pandit activist shared Tanveer Ahmed’s video on X and wrote a post:

“An elderly Kashmiri Pandit namely Pyare Lal is enduring harsh living conditions in village Aamno, Kulgam. Immediate intervention is needed to ensure his well-being.”

The video showed Pyare Lal’s distressing living conditions. It captured the attention of netizens and local authorities alike. His crumbling house and unhygienic conditions moved many netizens and above all the authorities.

District Magistrate Kulgam, Athar Aamir Khan, a Kashmiri, visited Pyare Lal and extended a helping hand to him. Like Pyare Lal didn’t leave his native land when the majority of Kashmiri Pandits left, he once again refused to leave his house come what may.

In the video posted on social media Athar Aamir Khan is seen trying to persuade Pyare Lal to move out of his house for a health check-up and live in a senior citizens’ home till his house is repaired. Even an unidentifiable local woman joins the conversation and  asks “Chacha" to move out temporarily.”

A Muslim woman is heard addressing herself as “his daughter.”

Touched by his resolve, Khan ensured that necessary arrangements were made to improve Pyare Lal’s living conditions right at home.

Khan's video has elicited  a plethora of positive response from netizens and the video has registered 64.1K views till the time of writing this news.

“We had made proper arrangements for him at our Senior Citizen Home but he didn’t want to move out despite our insistence,” shared Khan on social media. “He doesn’t want to shift to any other place. So, we are making arrangements at his home as well.” Athar Amir Khan said.

Khan said his dilapidated house is being repaired, and Pyare Lal would have regular health check-ups and visits from medical professionals. Besides, essentials such as ration, bedding, and blankets were provided, ensuring Pyare Lal’s comfort and well-being. “We made sure that they receive a monthly ration through the ration ghat there. And every ten days our government health officials will visit them regularly to do health checkups.”

The IAS officer also emphasised that the administration has made sure that the old man’s house gets proper sanitation facilities too, “We are making sure that we construct a washroom for him at the earliest because the house does not have one.”

His neighbours told the Kashmiri Life portal that they have been taking care of him and his fields. “He is our responsibility. He is our relative and we will make sure that his well-being and care are prioritized. We all are his relatives and we all have to look after him collectively. if not us, who will?”

Pyare Lal had told Tanveer Ahmad that his neighbours were taking care of him. He identified them as Bashir Ahmad Lone and his brother. The video also shows a young woman pleading with him to move to Kulgam for some time but he refuses. Instead, he told her to get him a good pheran. The woman asks the cameraman not to click his photograph because she was only taking care of “our bub”,(Fatherfigure in Kashmir).

Talashi also posted a video of locals visiting Pyare Lal before he was given a bath and a new pair of dress including a phiren.

“This man is more than 80 years old. When his parents died, he gave up the idea of marriage and refused to migrate,” Tanveer said. “As he aged, he became unable to manage himself and the neighbours chipped in. They have been taking care of him for years.” His siblings, however, live in Jammu.

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According to the neighbours the old man has been living alone for the past three decades, “He used to be a farmer but now his neighbours look after his land. Due to his old age, he is not able to eat well.”