On Pellet Guns

On Pellet Guns

Asserting that the use of pellet-firing shotguns should be immediately stopped, the Amnesty International said that authorities should “ensure that the use of other weapons is in line with international human rights standards on the use of force”. The Amnesty International has also called for a civil investigation into the use of pellet guns. The Amnesty’s report and its public disclosure is welcome and a step in the right direction but the fact of the matter is that , in the final analysis, the organization in contention is a Non Governmental Organization(NGO)- albeit an esteemed and a credible one. This is not to demean or undermine the Amnesty International but to put matters into perspective. The very fact that the Amnesty is a non governmental organization means that its recommendations might not be binding on the governments or administrations that it seeks to admonish. The Amnesty’s suggestions or admonitions merely have moral force. Again, to repeat, this is not to downplay the report which is much needed and a positive step in the public domain. The use of pellet guns has been an insidious development and even trend in Kashmir that has made numerable people disabled and dysfunctional. The use of this weapon must and should be barred in accordance with the gravamen of the Amnesty’s report. However, having said this, the real issue is more than pellet guns. The issue in contention is the conflict in and over Kashmir. The use of pellet guns flows from the conflict in Kashmir dimension which then gels with the conflict over Kashmir. In this sense, if pellet guns are made centre stage and the central issue, then this amounts to mistaking wood for the trees, so to speak. In other words, it amounts to battling manifestations. It is the conflict in and over Kashmir that begets practices like the use of pellet guns. Will, the question is, the conflict go away if pellet guns are barred and banded? No is the obvious answer. Prudence lies in the confronting facts and realities in and over Kashmir and then making sober and sincere attempts to resolve the conflict(s) that flow from these realities. To risk repetition and what is almost a mantra, what is needed is a multi-stakeholder conflict resolution paradigm that redounds to the interests of all parties- especially the people of Kashmir. Short of this approach and paradigm, anything else amounts to mere tinkering. Let the pellet gun issue concentrate minds and lead to a new paradigm in Kashmir- the kind that smells of roses.

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