The Jallikatu row and the police's response to clashes with protesters in Chennai have triggered a series of thoughts about the bias reserved for Kashmiri dissenters.
At the outset, I hope no civilian is hurt, blinded or killed by weapons in Kashmir or anywhere else.
A comparison, howsoever uncomfortable it may be, is but natural. Looking at the visuals of arson and violence in Chennai, one wonders, would the methods used for a clampdown on protesters in the Valley be used anywhere else in much the same way?
The exclusive use of the much-talked about pellet gun to quell protests in Kashmir has been criticised by people across board.
It has blinded dozens of people fully or partially during the 2016 summer unrest in the Valley.
Many reports have been witness to it. Some have asked why the guns, primarily used for scaring away animals, should be used to control human protesters in the Valley - a question that remains unanswered.
|The young boys and girls who lost their vision to pellet firing, their wailing parents and other devastating pictures from the time of the unrest in Kashmir are unforgettable. Photo: Reuters|
Officials maintain that the pellet gun is a "non-lethal weapon", but doctors who regularly treat pellet victims have repeatedly and categorically stated that such firing can maim a person - and inflict permanent disability.
Pellet guns are loaded with lead pieces which scatter in every direction in large numbers upon firing.
The minute metal pieces penetrate the skin's soft tissue and the eye is the most vulnerable in the face of pellet guns because it is so delicate.
Doctors who operate upon pellet victims in Kashmir say that once the pellet pierces the eye, it shatters layers of the tissue and can cause irreparable damage.
The young boys and girls who lost their vision to pellet firing, their wailing parents and other devastating pictures from the time of the unrest in Kashmir are unforgettable.
The government has been widely criticised by every quarter. No less than the home minister of the country reached Kashmir and told the media the forces would replace the pellet guns with chilli-based PAVA shells, but their use continues to this day.
And that is exactly the point.
The ordinary Kashmiri is bound to ask today, are pellets are reserved for us?
It isn't about making sure that if people suffer here in the Valley, they should suffer in Chennai too, but one can't wish away the feeling of being treated with deep discrimination.
These questions are being posed by some outside the Valley too.
Senior journalist Shekhar Gupta recently tweeted:
Tough question, but needs to be asked: a police station/vehicles are burnt in the heart of Chennai, a metro. Where are the pellet guns?— Shekhar Gupta (@ShekharGupta) January 23, 2017
To this, R Jagannathan, another journalist, tweeted in response:
@ShekharGupta The answer is there is no insurgency or sustained attacks on the police. One or two incidents do not warrant pellets. Apples and oranges— R Jagannathan (@TheJaggi) January 23, 2017
Not backing down, Gupta responded to him pointing out that nothing warrants the use of the lethal weapons.
Yet another senior journalist, Harinder Baweja, supported Gupta's argument:
Cant agree more. NOTHING 'warrants' pellet guns. The aloofness of Delhi's media n their apathy, if I may so say, is scary https://t.co/sjURyqcd6s— Harinder Baweja (@shammybaweja) January 24, 2017
If there are people who share this sentiment outside the Valley, imagine what a Kashmiri would conclude from such treatment.
Why wouldn't the Kashmiri feel like the singled-out "other" in India?