Dissent Is The Hallmark Of A Democracy


The world of today is beset with a plethora of conflicts, every right, left and centre. Kashmir imbroglio in the Asian sub-continent forms the majoritarian case of a looming imbroglio, overridden with a burden of mismanagement, broken promises and many more. The valley of Kashmir forms the contrary case of the strand of governance deficit which has given renewed impetus to the dissenting voices of the masses day in and day out.

Dissent is the hallmark of a democ­racy which acts as a medium for the ex­pression of the masses against the sys­tem. There are certain rights and duties guaranteed for the citizens, including the right to freedom of expression and right to life. Caught in the quagmire of crisis that has deeply permeated the so­ciety, the people in Kashmir from time to time vent up their dissent. Protests are the tools for the masses through which they ventilate their pent up emo­tions. Kashmir is not a different case. It is also teemed with crisis and caught in a looming distress day in and day out. Kashmir is the most sensitive zone of the whole Asian sub-continent, where situations turn awry with the passage of time, It is the only state of the Indian Union, where there has been a reckless use of the pellet guns without any regard for the precious life of the common man.

Kashmir’s pellet tragedy is a sim­mering question on the face of the Indian democracy, which has not only maimed, blinded and killed the masses, but also shaken the collective conscience of the people, who have fallen prey to a differ­ent approach of dichotomy of the gov­ernment. The killing of Burhan Wani in 2016 brought about a volcanic eruption in valley which not only deteriorated the situation in Kashmir, but also increased the massive alienation of the masses. The waves of grief and anger against the day-to-day killings and maims that the people felt increased with each day. In order to control the crisis, the security agencies used the deadly pellets which caused heavy damage to the sufferers. More than 1200 people lost their vision in 2016. According to a report of State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), more than 75% people Post- Burhan Wani’s killing in 2016 suffered injuries due to pellet guns, ranging from minor to major. There was a heavy loss of life.

Although small in size, these black metallic balls have affected our young generation very badly. The use of pellet guns brought crisis in Kashmir. Where­as, for the security agencies, it is meant to disperse the crowds, but, for the com­mon masses, it is a problematic affair.

Pellet guns are pump-action shot­guns which fire a cluster of small, round, metal pellets with high velocity over a broad range.

Recently, after the killing of a mili­tant from Pahalgam area, in the anti-es­tablishment protests, a number of peo­ple were injured due to pellet injuries of the forces. A nurse working in the same area told me that she healed at least 100 plus pellet injured victims. The bloody Sunday of this year’s April and the sub­sequent clashes of the protestors with the security agencies left many injured, with multiple cases of pellet injuries to the eyes of the protestors.

Pellets cause a number of biological ramifications in the victim, like the loss of vision, the state of paralysis, in case, the damage is caused to the spinal cord, defacements ,and death in case of damage to the vital organs of the body, like, heart, kidneys, lungs, brain, etc. Moreover, the pangs of guilt that a victim suffers in si­lence dishearten one and all. The use of pellet guns as a crowd-control method during protests, whether in case of cordon and search operations(CASO) or common protests has added a volley of questions to the interna of the common man.

The substitution of pellet guns with PAVA shells can in no way control the crisis.The way people of other parts of the country are treated should form a close semblance in case of protests in Kashmir.Why the security forces are using pellets and bullets against the people whom the system claims with a sense of belonging. There can be other alternatives,like the use of water canons without an element of damage and ensu­ing crisis that engulfs the society and creeps the psyche of the common men. If this is the notion of the system to pun­ish dissent,then dissent itself takes a u-turn of additions and alterations with the passage of time. The bleeding valley is giving a close call for one and all to unite and ensure a state of peace and order. The administrative and political will to stop the use of pellet guns has cold-hearted the people.

Kashmir is passing through the phases of testing times with each pass­ing day. The ugly turn of the situations and recurring events and the amateur dealing of the same have created an un­healthy atmosphere everywhere, where people have lost faith in the governance systems. Exits from dwellings and adieus from home don’t guarantee the safe return of the people. The interlocu­tor of the centre in vale, Mr. Dineshwar Sharma once reiterated that, ‘the prior­ity is to prevent Kashmir turning into Syria’. The imbroglio has crippled the educational scenario, down slowed the economy, increased the unemployment, but, above all,t he ultimate question is the redress of the problem at stake.

The victory of BJP at the centre with the thumping majority after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections with the slogan of ‘minimum government, maximum gov­ernance’ falls short of words and has partially failed in the state of J&K. The killings of the common masses are in no way remedies to the ailments. There should be the ultimate regard for the hu­man lives. Why the blood of the people has been left so cheap? When will peace return to the valley of Kashmir? The government of India had constituted an expert committee in July 2016 to explore other possible alternatives to pellet guns as non-lethal weapons. Although, the committee submitted its report and the recommendations were taken into ac­count by the government for implemen­tation. But, what happened afterwards lies in the public domain for discussion. The use of pellet guns is tantamount to the violation of rights of the people.

In order to direct the valley towards the state of peace and development, the role of multiple players of India, Pakistan and Valley comes to fore. This way the government can make a significant con­tribution in the restoration of normalcy. 

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