This is the famous Dashashwamedh Ghat in Varanasi — the city also known as Benares, the holiest of the seven sacred cities in Hinduism and Jainism. “Ghats” are a series of steps leading pilgrims to the Ganges River to perform ritual ablutions (while tourists on a moving boat try to take non-blurry pictures).
After the Sunni fundamentalist Taliban rulers retook control of Afghanistan, there were initial, friendly signals exchanged with Iran's Shia regime. But a recent border skirmish recalls tensions from the 1990s, when Iran massed troops on the Afghan frontier.
Between 300 and 500 birds (not to mention eggs and chicks) are thought to have died near a natural reserve, potentially all because of a land dispute.