Arming Civilians

It is not the first time that a thing called Village Defense Committee (VDC) has come into sharp focus. Many a time it has been brought to light that such groups are a potential threat to the peaceful co-existence of the peoples of Jammu and Kashmir. Each time VDC came into limelight, of course for all the wrong reasons, it was underlined that the implications of arming people in the civilian spaces is fraught with ugly consequences. Once again the apprehensions have come true. The murder of a civilian by Village Defense Committee member in Rajouri area of Jammu province has once again put VDC in spotlight. The political parties and human rights groups have once again raised the voice to disarm such groups. In this recent violent act committed by VDC, the person who lost life was associated with National Conference, the oldest and the most rooted political party in the state. For this reason the incident has attracted more attention. Since National Conference is in opposition and it is directly affected by this latest act of violence by VDC, it's understandable why this party is in the forefront to speak against VDC. True, that this party should speak against the formation of such groups, but it is time to pose a question to them as well; what did your party do when it was in the government. Did you respond positively to the voices raised against the formation of VDC, or you preferred to look the other way. It's now incumbent on this party to compensate for the past mistakes and fight against the phenomenon of arming civilian as an aid to the surveillance wings and anti-militancy structures of the state. It is a known fact world over that when civilians are armed to fight against actual and presumed adversary, such armed groups finally turn against the society from which they are raised. It's time for the present dispensation to take an urgent call on this.

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