Home Minister Rajnath Singh has said a decision on pellet guns will taken soon. According to reports, a less lethal weapon which incapacitates temporarily the target might be used instead of the infamous pellet guns. While pellet guns have indeed led to death and maiming in the ongoing protest movement in Kashmir, but elevating the issue of pellet guns over others is sheer folly. In essence, pellet guns are the real issue; Kashmir is. Elevating pellet guns over Kashmir amounts to either obscuring the real issue or getting the causality wrong. That is, it is a clear cut instance of mistaking cause for effect.
The effect is the use of pellet guns and the cause is the conflict in and over Kashmir. What the GoI aims to achieve by putting affect before cause is inexplicable. It will neither have the effect of pacifying the protestors nor will it have a rhetorical effect.
Why then has the Government decided to review the use of pellet guns?
The answer is speculative but somewhat plausible. The deaths and scores of injuries which include serious ones like blinding appear to have brought a bad name to the Indian state. Where essentially robust crowd control techniques would have ameliorated and perhaps dispersed mobs, the state took recourse to pellet guns which we all know have led to deaths and serious injuries. This hogged the headlines and even attracted the notice of the international media with harrowing and vivid pictures of victims. In order to check and prevent this attracting the attention of media and what have you, the state appears to have decided to review the use of pellet guns. The hope, on part of the state, may be to check the reputational effects of the use of these notorious weapons.
This, however, leaves the cause for the use of pellet guns unaddressed. The reference here is to the conflict in and over Kashmir. As long as the conflict is allowed to remain frozen from an exogenous dimension (that is, the conflict over Kashmir), the endogenous dimension (the conflict in Kashmir) will not only simmer but also implode time and again. This very fact defeats the purpose of an alternative weapon to pellet guns.
Powers that be in India must realize as long as the multifarious dimensions of the conflict in and over Kashmir remain unaddressed, Kashmir will be like the proverbial bale of cotton which smoulders continuously till a catalytic spark renders the bale of cotton into a ball of fire.
Management and containment of the conflict and use of power over process has gone for far too long. It has neither pacified the people of Kashmir; nor has it altered the conflict dynamics and transformed Kashmir into a post conflict society. The prosaic and the profound reality is that Kashmir is in conflict and there is conflict over Kashmir. Until sober and prudent measures which are premised on a stakeholder approach are taken- a theme that KO has long rooted for and believes in- nothing substantive will happen in Kashmir. The sooner powers that be recognize this and take commensurate action, the better it is!
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