Jammu and Kashmir Police takes stock of village defence committees

September 7th, 2012 - 6:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Jammu, Sep 7 (IANS) The Jammu and Kashmir Police has started the process of “rationalising” the village defence committees (VDCs) after the waning of militancy in the state.

The VDCs were formed in remote militancy-infested parts of Jammu in the mid 1990s to fight militants. Groups of able-bodied volunteers of the village were given arms and trained to fight militants by the government.

According to a senior police official, the process of “rationalisation of VDCs” has begun across the Jammu region. The process will involve a review of the need for these committees, and stock-taking of the weapons allotted.

The police official said, “There are reports of impropriety by the VDC members, by way of misuse of weapon or accidental firing due to lack of ability. We have thus started the process of review and rationalisation.”

There are about 5,000 Village Defence Committee members who have police weapons in different areas of Jammu.

The official noted, “The weapons were given to VDC members long years ago. So there is now a need to account for them.”

The official said that the police have authorised a gazetted officer in the different areas to conduct a physical verification of the weapons and ammunition given to VDC members.

The officer explained, “There is also a need to see if the VDC member who has been given arms is in a good frame of mind, and capable of handling the weapon responsibly.”

Cases have been reported of weapons being used to intimidate villagers. There were also reports of accidental firing. There are instances when the VDC member allotted the weapon has died, and the family has continued to hold possession of it.

The officer said that any decision would only be taken after serious deliberation. “We are in no hurry, and many things will be taken into account before a decision is taken,” he said.

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