Oxymoron(ish) and Meaningless

Oxymoron(ish) and Meaningless
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The Minister of State of Home of India has stated that “the Government has decided to introduce less lethal plastic bullets also to be used in tackling law and order situations in Kashmir”. On the face of it, the statement either is cavalier in terms of the use of language or if the language employed is clean, then it is an oxymoron and is meaningless. The reasons, among other things, pertain to the use of the word “lethal”. That is, lethal is lethal; it can neither be less nor more. But, it is not just the matter of linguistics or linguistic awkwardness. The issue is serious and has life and death (or debilitating injury) implications. The use of pellets, in Kashmir, for instance, has left scores injured, for life and, at times, people have even died. Would the use of plastic bullets be any different? While second guessing is , often times, a mug’s game, but it might not be inaccurate to posit that plastic bullets might not make much of a difference. But, yet again, the issue is wider and broader than either the use of pellet or plastic bullets. The use of either actually stems from the conflict in Kashmir dimension. That is, when mass anger, breaches a certain critical threshold, and people take to the streets, on account of a catalytic spur, and a confrontation takes place between forces and the people, forces take recourse to pellets or sometime even more fatal measures. The issue then is the conflict in and over Kashmir. This is the larger macro reality that needs to and must be addressed. There are micro dimensions to the whole saga as well. These pertain to crowd control measures. It stands to reason that Kashmir being a volatile place riven by uncertainty, protests and other allied and ancillary themes have become part of quotidian life here. Instead of non lethal crowd control measures here, the confrontations that ensue are dealt with, in insalubrious terms, unlike elsewhere. Prudence then suggests that , at micro levels, ungainly and life exacting measures not be employed. But, both the prosaic and profound reality is that the political uncertainty that defines Kashmir is what begets protests and violence here. The need of the hour , to pre empt and prevent these , is to take recourse to common sense. That is, resolve the conflict in and over Kashmir, in the interests of all stakeholders and their aspirations.

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