News in Columns Corner
Painful Saga: Referendum on weapons in Kashmir
Only Kashmir | Rameez Makhdoomi | 1st Sep 2016
Ever since the violence erupted in Kashmir after the onset of turmoil on account of rigged democratic process, death and destruction became part and parcel of life. Tragedies replaced happiness, happy songs got replaced by mourning wails.
What has been the most painful aspect of the conflict of Kashmir is that rather than resorting to saner path of resolving Kashmir conflict the state has indulged in referendum of weapons – which one will destroy and control masses in a better way.
. In Kashmir gun powder was used for the first time not for fighting a war but for destroying houses on a massive .scale, then the transition came in form of heavy motor shelling and sometimes use of IEDs. It was like the option of sir would you like to see your house raised to ground by motor shelling or IED or Gun powder during anti- militancy operations.
The most heartless fact is that in name of crowd control; or crushing protests; first the teargas shells were used and subsequently rubber bullets too were introduced. Over the years, pellets have been introduced .Teargas killed Kashmiris, Rubber Bullets killed Kashmiris, Pellets not only killed but also blinded kashmiris and now there is talk of introducing PAVA shells containing highly pungent Chilli powder.
Every time a weapon has been termed as non-lethal it has on ground showed exact reverse lethal impacts. When the civillised world is debating that is it even morally right even to use “Rats” as experimental tool, the reverse is happening in Kashmir as the humans are being treated worse than rats.
1.5 Million pellets, lacs of teargas shells fired over the years, thousands of bullets sprayed is not the statistic that should have defined Kashmir but result oriented round tables, bilateral, trilateral talks , public gatherings on ways to resolve the conflict should have been the civillised path but alas an arrogant state has never heeded to humane approach.
When the urge and rationale demanding that state and governments should have initiated meaningful processes to solve the political issue of Kashmir the stress is just on what we call referendum of weapons .Giving people just the options of which weapon will contain and harm you in most effective way is not the right track as has unfortunately been the case since past three decades. It should be referendum on political options and choices not the referendum on weapons to heal Kashmir once for all.
Would you like to die or get suffocated by Bullet, Pellet, Chili grenade, PAVA Shell, Teargas shell and see your property damaged by motor shell or gunpowder are not the options but a referendum that asks people whether they want freedom, autonomy, accession with India or Pakistan are the options that can solve Kashmir pain once for all and ensure peace in South Asia.
Alas, history suggest it has been referendum of weapons so far in Kashmir.
(The writer is a freelance journalist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org).