SRINAGAR: Amid efforts by militant groups to spread their influence and activities in the Jammu region, the central government has revived the Village Defence Committees (VDCs) in all 10 districts of the province and rechristened them Village Defence Groups (VDGs). An order issued by Ipsita S Paul, Union undersecretary, stated that the members of the Village Defence Groups (VDGs) shall be designated as Village Defence Guards (VDGs).
In more vulnerable areas, persons (VI category) who shall be leading or coordinating with the VDGs would be paid Rs 4,500 per month while other persons (V2 category) who are members of the VDGs on voluntary basis would be paid Rs 4,000 per month, the order read. It stated that VDGs will function under the direction of SP/SSP of the district concerned. “The revised scheme will, however, be made effective only after apprising the high court,” added the order.
BJP leader Sunil Sharma, who was part of a party delegation that met Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi on Tuesday and discussed revival of VDCs, said each VDG would comprise 8-10 members.
The BJP and other Jammu-based parties had been calling for revival of the VDCs in view of a spurt in militancy and continued efforts by terror groups to spread their activities in Jammu. Last year, 18 militants had been killed in encounters with forces in the region.
Sharma said the VDGs will be trained in use of automatic weapons by police and security forces, who will also decide what kind of weapons have to be given to these guards. The issue of pending remuneration of the VDC members would also be addressed, he added. The VDCs were formed in Jammu during 1994-95, when militancy was at its peak. Each VDC comprised 10 members, including three SPOs, and they were provided weapons training and .303 rifles by J&K. About 4,000 VDCs existed in J&K.
Many VDC members were also killed in targeted militant attacks. However, after improvement in the ground situation, the VDCs became defunct and some SPOs, who were part of these committees, were recruited in police. The two mainstream parties of Kashmir, NC and PDP, have been dead against the VDCs.